The benefits of staying mindful while exercising and my top tips to get better at it!
Updated: May 11, 2020
Of course, there are benefits to completely zoning out – putting on your banging tunes and getting lost in the exercises certainly serves a purpose some of the time. Exercises like running, power walking and being on the cross trainer at the gym allow your mind to somehow roam free while your body does all the work! However, have you sometimes felt so distracted that you completely lose sight of what you’re doing? I feel that there’s something magical about feeling your own level of strength and power as you exercise. It’s hard to describe but there’s some sort of flow that happens when we pay attention to what we’re doing in the moment and a feeling that we could miss out on if we are constantly distracted.
I’m a big believer of incorporating mindfulness into our everyday and finding ways that we can include it without feeling like we are chasing a ‘mindfulness experience’.
Mindfulness is proven to bring you these things during exercise;
• A stronger connection to our mind+body: When you focus on each exercise, the muscles you're working, and what you're actually trying to achieve we get way more out of the exercise • Better results: When you focus on what you're doing, you improve the quality of the movement and as a result a better workout • Increased level of happiness & satisfaction: When you know exactly what muscle you're working and you tune into how each exercise feels you know you’re getting the most out of each movement. By the time you finish you are aware you’ve done your best & it feels goooood!
I hear you saying – but how do you get better at being more mindful while exercising? Here are my top tips to do exactly that;
1. Create a purpose for your session! Too often we exercise for an end result that we aren’t going to achieve during one workout. Give yourself a purpose for that one session and focus on exactly that. An example may be a) to complete the workout you’ve set yourself today, b) to challenge yourself by focusing hard on the intervals you’ve set yourself, c) to strengthen and work only the muscles in your lower body today. 2. Remember your why Sometimes we head to the gym and a short on time, we may rush through exercises or rush to a class and before we know it we’re back on the sofa at home. Remember why it’s important you move your body today and complete your workout and afterwards reflect on why you made it a priority for yourself today.
Tell yourself This session will help me have more energy later today I’ll feel good and happy after I’ve finished this workout I’ll sleep much better tonight if I complete it all This will help me feel much less stressed and I can return to work with a clear head
3. Slooooow dooooown Prioritise this time for you and you may as well enjoy yourself while you’re at it! Give yourself permission to take your time with each workout. Ensure you are performing the correct exercises and give yourself time to focus on each movement. Particularly when you’re doing strength exercises – don’t rush through and think about your posture, core and every inch of your body. Focus on how it feels and see how much more you can get out of every exercise by tuning in and listening to your body. 4. The art of breathing How can it be so complicated? Despite it being part of how we function, we seem to not be able to master the art of breathing correctly. Always tune into your breath and take big deep breaths into your stomach – close your eyes if it helps. I find this helpful to do when my mind wanders and heads off into different directions. The next time you want to watch the clock try this exercise and it will bring yourself back to the present moment. Breathing is the simplest way to deal with stress and bring you to the current moment.
5. Dear body, thank you! Hold onto the feeling you get whenever you finish a workout! Remember how it feels to get through a hard session and thank yourself at the end for getting yourself through it. Allow yourself time to reduce the heart rate and slow your breath down. Take time to cool down and stretch the muscles you’ve worked. During this time reflect on your hard work and make time for one final relaxation – connect with you mind and body and congratulate yourself for showing up.
Do all of your workouts involve some sort of distraction? If so it may be time to switch up your routine. Start by being mindful the next time you exercise – tune into how you feel and see how different you feel?