Mindfulness – the buzzword that seems to be the suggested solution to every problem from stress to poor work performance to parenting problems. It seems to have taken the world by storm, which is great because it really does work!
But what the heck has it got to do with exercise?
A lot, actually. It turns out that most of us tune out when exercising and it’s causing us to miss out on some of the pretty amazing benefits of moving our bodies.
First of all, what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a state of being present in the moment. It means that instead of thinking about the future or past, you tune into what this exact present moment is like.
What can you see, hear, smell, feel, touch and taste right now? Go on, think about it! You’ll probably be surprised by some of the things existing around you that you didn’t even notice before.
Why be mindful during exercise?
Most of us go out of our way to avoid being mindful during exercise. Listening to a podcast or watching Netflix while on the stationary bike might be a legit strategy for making the time pass quicker and exercising for longer, but it isn’t always the best option.
Here are some of the amazing ways we can benefit from being mindful during exercise:
- It increases workout effectiveness because we can really focus on putting a good effort in
- It reduces injuries because we’re more aware of maintaining the correct form
- It connects us to our bodies in a more intense way
- It reduces anxiety and depression
- It makes us feel amazing when we really notice our own power and flow
- Its more fun!
Boost mindfulness during exercise
There are heaps of ways to get started. Try one or more of these:
- Set an intention for the workout. You can choose to focus your workout on a specific muscle group or aim for a specific duration. Be aware of how you’re tracking as you exercise.
- Link you ‘Why’ to the exercise session. Want to get stronger so you can play with your kids more? Think about how strong your body gets each time you show up and get moving.
- Don’t rush. Take your time to correct your form and feel the moves, especially when using weights.
- Turn off your podcast or Netflix show. Ouch, but seriously, give it a go. Music is fine, but make sure you stay focussed on now.
- Be conscious of the air entering your lungs and oxygenating your blood. This is one of the best ways to connect you to your body and the present moment.
- Cool down and stretch mindfully. Take the time to feel how your body feels after your workout. Notice the stretching feeling and the release as it relaxes.
- Reflect on what you’ve achieved.
Don’t forget to practise mindful movement during your incidental exercise too! This can be anything from gardening to mopping the floor. Honour each precious moment.
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