Yoga is known for being a great exercise that goes hand in hand with mindfulness. But it’s not the only exercise that can incorporate mindfulness. Staying mindful during any workout can provide surprising benefits, including relieving stress and improving workouts. Whether you spend time on the yoga mat or the treadmill, follow some tips and advice for integrating mindfulness and fitness together.
Exercise obviously has physical benefits for your body, but it’s also good for your mind. Through self-discovery, fitness helps with depression and addiction recovery. “Workouts – especially those which require you to focus and don’t allow your mind to wander – can be wonderful therapy for depression,” says Treehouse Rehab.
Exercise can also decrease stress and anxiety, improve overall mood, increase energy levels, improve sleep quality, boost memory, and help control chronic pain. Mindfulness shares many of the same benefits: it lowers stress, improves memory, fights mental illnesses, improves sleep, helps control chronic pain, and more. They’re a perfect match.
Stress can manifest from almost every part of life, including jobs, low phone batteries, family, finding a parking spot, and even workouts. Have you ever worked out and spent the entire time watching the clock or thinking about everything you need to be doing other than working out? Many people try to distract themselves during workouts by using music or TVs. While zoning out during workouts can sometimes be meditative, being too distracted can be a bad thing.
First, you lose the sense of satisfaction from a job well done if you’re distracted. Staying mindful while you workout gives you more satisfaction. You’re aware of which areas of the body are working hard, and you can pay attention to how each exercise makes you feel. This helps you know whether or not you’re getting the most out of each exercise. When you’re done, you have no doubt that you truly did your best.
Distraction also causes you to lose the connection to what you’re doing. When you focus on the task at hand, there’s a flow that occurs, but you miss that if you’re distracted. Mindfulness during exercise gives you a stronger connection to your body. Feeling your own strength and power as you exercise can be rewarding.
Your workouts may not be as effective when you’re distracted. Rushing through a workout may negatively affect form and exertion, which not only lessens the effectiveness but can also result in injury. Being mindful gives you better results because staying focused on the exercise allows you to improve the quality of your movement, which improves the quality of your workout.
To be more mindful during workouts, start by having a purpose for each workout. Weight loss may be your final goal, but that’s not going to happen after one workout; a purpose gives you something to focus on during the current workout. For example, your purpose may be to work out your lower body or workout for a specific amount of time
Also, try to remember your reason for exercising. If your mind starts to wonder and think about the pile of laundry at home or the emails that need answering, focus on why you’ve made exercise a priority in your life and how will the current workout will help you today by giving you more energy, improving your mood, helping you sleep later.
Don’t rush through your workout. Slow down so that you can focus on your form and motion.
“Think about your posture, your core, and the rest of your body, including the muscles you are targeting; focus on feeling them contract and relax,” says VeryWell. Also, remember to breathe. Focusing on the breath relieves stress and brings you back to the current moment. Lastly, end on a good note by relishing how good it feels when you’re done.
Try to figure out what it is about your workout routine that makes you long for a distraction. Sometimes changing how you exercise can lead to more workout satisfaction. While allowing your mind to wander isn’t always bad, exercising while practicing mindfulness may be what your workout needs. During your next workout, focus on what you’re doing and how it feels, and you may find that mindfulness is your ticket to workout satisfaction.