5 Ways Racecar Drivers Can Help Improve Your Lifestyle

Posted on November 22, 2013 by Sonia Levitin No Comments

What if I told you that there was a way for you to get mentally and physically fitter, stay younger and more focused, and be better equipped to meet your life’s challenges?

Photo Mario Andretti

Marco Andretti preparing for a race. His winning performance is an example of how physical and cognitive fitness can make you a winner too.

Now what if I told you that the secret to achieving that lies with racecar drivers?

Yes, race car drivers – NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1 – those guys. They might not seem like the obvious source for that information, but racers encounter physical and mental demands that few other professions deal with. And through training and dedication, they develop a lifestyle that not only enables them to meet these demands, but propels them to the finish line as well. There’s a lot to gain from learning how they do it.

Here are 5 benefits that living a racer’s lifestyle can bring you:

Get physically fit

Some of you might think, “Racers don’t need to be that physically fit. They’re just driving a car, right?” Well think again! Not only are racers athletes, they’re some of the fittest people on the planet. So when looking for ideas for getting fitter and healthier, why not look to them?

  • Professional drivers can experience the same amount of g-force as an astronaut – up to 6g on a single turn.
  • They’re operating vehicles at mind-boggling speeds on winding tracks and bumpy terrain.
  • Formula 1 drivers require enormous upper body strength to keep control of the steering wheel, and the neck strength to support the massive forces weighing down their helmets at every turn.
  • Racer heart rates average 160 beats/minute and the heat generated inside a racing cockpit causes them to sweat up to 6 pounds of their bodyweight in a single race.
  • Not to mention that one “stint” in a race car can last over 2 hours; some endurance races last a full 24 hours between 3 or 4 drivers.

Enhance your brain power

Mental laziness is not an option for racers. They must remain constantly alert for hours while their bodies fatigue and overexert. And they learn to maintain unbroken focus in the midst of extreme physical and psychological distraction. When going at speeds of up to 220 miles/hour, one false move can lead to total carnage. So racers train to achieve unquestionable mental agility and reaction level.

The mental challenges that racers regularly deal with have an empowering effect on the brain. When a study conducted at University of California, San Francisco observed ordinary people that were put in a simulated racing environment, they found that a mere 12 hours of training improved their working memory and sustained attention. In an age when we’re delegating some of that crucial brain work to computers, smart phones, and GPS navigation, it wouldn’t hurt to apply elements of that training toward enhancing our own mental acumen.

Stay young longer

It’s no surprise, given that they keep themselves in prime physical condition, that drivers can remain physically fit even as they advance in age. But did you know that racing can keep the mind young too?

In fact, the same study mentioned earlier also found that when participants had to physically and mentally multi-task while sustaining focus and blocking out distractions, it led to an effect that reversed some of the harm caused by an ageing brain. After the 12 hours of training, adults that were 60-85 years of age started outperforming peers in their 20s that didn’t do the training. And the cognitive skills they developed remained with them 6 months after that.

Overcome distraction

  • Physical distractions stealing your attention…
  • Competitors trying to sneak ahead of you…
  • Struggling to staying calm and focused under pressure…
  • Falling victim to overconfidence or self-doubt…

Racers face paralyzing mental obstacles like these in the regular course of their business. Do any on that list sound familiar to you too? That’s because the mental blocks racers encounter on the track are the same other people come across in every-day life. But race trainers and sport psychologists have dedicated their careers to fine-tuning techniques that give the strength to overcome them. It’s a Herculean task that’s been mastered in the auto-racing world. And that knowledge can be applied just as usefully outside that world.

Be ready for the challenges life throws at you

The mental and physical demands placed on a racecar driver are extreme, to put it lightly. And yet they develop a lifestyle that trains them to meet those demands head on. After all, the healthier a driver is – physically and mentally – the better equipped he is to do his job. And that’s not far from the truth when it comes to all of us on the sidelines.

In the future, we’ll explore different aspects of the racer lifestyle more in depth and discuss ways they could be incorporated outside of the racetrack. By finding elements we can translate to our own lives, we too can become better equipped to meet our challenges. And – like racers – we can use those skills to stay healthier, stay smarter, stay young, stay focused, and ultimately succeed and win at whatever it is we do.



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