How Mindfulness Can Help You Get A Better Workout
We often want to distract ourselves from our workouts, but being mindful during exercise can relieve stress, make you feel good and even make your workouts better.
We know that too much stress can affect every part of our lives and, there are times when our workouts may actually add more of the stuff. Think about those times when you set out to exercise only to spend the entire time clock-watching, rushing through your workout, and/or thinking about all the things you should be doing instead. Maybe you're workouts feel so miserable, you deliberately distract yourself with anything you can get your hands on—your iPod, a TV, books, etc.
When you aren't focused on what you're doing, you may lose that sense of satisfaction for a job well done and, not only that, your workouts may not be as effective. Think about it; when you're in a rush to be done, how careful are you with your form? If you added more focus to your workouts, more mindfulness to your exercises, you might get more out of them than you think.
Staying in the moment
Lots of people come to me and say ‘oh I waved at you running the other day and you didn’t see me’. This is because I often use running as a way of relieving stress. I concentrate on each and every step, the music playing in my ears and the rhythm of my breath. Theres something so relaxing about this that I completely zone out from the outer world and go into my inner world. Reflect on my thoughts and feelings and concentrate on what my body and mind is doing.
If when you're too distracted, you lose that connection to what you're doing, that magical moment of feeling your own strength and power as you exercise. There's a flow that happens when we pay attention to what we're doing in the current moment, one that we may be missing out on with those distractions.
Mindfulness during exercise can also bring you:
A stronger connection to your body: When you focus on each exercise, the muscles you're working, and what you're actually accomplishing, you get more out of each exercise and each workout.
Better results: When you focus on what you're doing, you improve the quality of your movement and, as a result, the quality of your overall workout.
More satisfaction: When you know exactly what you're working, how each exercise feels and whether you're getting the most out of each exercise, you can end your workout knowing you did your best.
So how can you improve each workout and make it more ‘mindful’ ?
Have a purpose for each workout - the common goal of a workout is to lose weight, but that isn’t going to happen in that one workout. So why not make it more specific. Think about what muscles you may be strengthening, work on a specific area of fitness ( such as improving your cardiovascular fitness) or just simply work towards finishing what you’ve planned.
Remember why you’re exercising - If you find yourself rushing through exercise, thinking of all the things you should be doing instead, remember why it's important to do your workout. Reflect on why have you made exercise a priority and how will this workout help you right now. Some ideas:
This workout will help me have more energy for my day
I'll feel really good about myself if I finish my workout
I'll sleep better tonight after this workout
I deserve to take care of myself, and exercise is part of that
I'll feel much less stressed if I exercise
Remind yourself to breathe -Breathing is the simplest way to deal with stress and bring you to the current moment. If your mind wanders during your workout or you keep watching the clock, close your eyes and take a breath to bring yourself back to the moment. You're exercising right now and that's all you have to do. You'll deal with the rest when it's time.
All in all working out isn’t a chore its a privilege. To be able to walk, and do the things we want to do everyday is a blessing. So why not make the most of it, because as we grow old we may no longer be able to do the things we do today.
Enjoy every workout, be more mindful and you will find each workout more and more satisfying!