Exercise often feels like less of a chore when you’re watching tv or listening to music; distractions can make the time go by faster and more enjoyable. When we’re not focused on what our bodies are doing, we’re more detached from the physical work — but is that necessarily a good thing? Mounting evidence suggests that adding in some periods of mindful exercise can benefit the body and mind, while also increasing motivation. Mindfulness is a meditative mindset which involves being keenly aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at the moment without judgment.
How Can Mindfulness Help?
In some ways, zoning out in some fashion during your workout can be meditative and allows you to keep doing a simple activity (like running on a treadmill) for longer than if you had nothing to distract you. Being too distracted can also cause you to lose connection to what is actually happening as you exercise — the feel of your muscles working, your heart rate, your breathing. Being present and aware can help you achieve a flow you wouldn’t have if you were distracting yourself. Being mindful can allow you to have a stronger connection to your body and increase the amount of satisfaction you get from workouts. Focusing on your movements and your form will allow you to maximize the quality and benefits of your exercise.
How Can You be More Mindful During Exercise?
Practicing being completely aware and in the moment will help you be better attuned to the work your body is doing. Having a purpose for each workout can provide structure and give you a goal to focus on. It can be to strengthen a certain muscle group, to work out for a certain period of time, or to challenge yourself in some way. Keep in mind why you’re exercising and why it’s important to you. Slow down; take your time with each activity instead of trying to power through it, especially on strength training. Think about your posture, your core, and the muscles you’re targeting. Exercise is stressful on the body, so be sure to breathe! Breathing steadily and purposefully helps you release stress while providing a rhythm that can anchor you to being present in the moment. Make sure you end your workout on a good note — cool down, stretch, and reflect on the work you’ve accomplished!