Some refer to animal movements as nothing more than warm ups for the "big" exercises; that's fine if they think that but that mainly tells me they have fully experienced the benefits of the movements themselves and what they truly represent. When you break it down, each movement in its capacity brings in a full engaged body otherwise you won't be able to move very well and you're not using your body's natural instincts. This in turn establishes more power into the body's Central Nervous system and flows up the energy of the spine and produces blood into the streams leading up to the brain. When your body flows with that much energy, it enhances the activity in the brain which can enhance memory, the ability to process better and increase possibly with intelligence.
The focus of the movements opens up the areas of the brain that produces endorphins and with the blood flowing at a powerful, natural rate it stimulates all areas of the brain. I'm no scientist, I'm only going on experiences and the possibilities of what these animal moves can really do when engaged. The mental toughness comes from the ability to keep going. Like an animal in the wild, it has to be tough in order to survive and be able to take down prey or run from it when it's called for. In life, things do get tough and when you have the drive to keep moving even though you're tired it brings out a whole other realm of strength that's within you.
After doing thousands of steps, yards ect I personally believe that when you're done with a session, you'll experience a level of focus, blissfulness & calmness that anything that is thrown at you would just fly by. Other than Bridging exercises I have never experienced an endorphin high and level of positive energy than through the training of animal moves. I feel like the world is my oyster and I can do anything even if its just for a few moments. Because of all that energy, your mind and body become one and you will have abilities you didn't think existed. I have literally done hundreds of programs and playouts and none of them gave me that kind of energy. It was scary but I have come to accept it and learn how to apply it in my everyday life. So like I said, its beyond a warm-up, it is a way of BEING!!!