Working out is supposed to be relaxing. It’s supposed to make you feel better and get healthier, so why not add mindfulness into it? I’ve been there, not wanting to think, just to get my workout over with, but being mindful actually increases what you can get from your workout.
A Connection With Your Body
We’ve all been there, zoning out to our favorite tunes, show, or book during a bike ride or maybe lift set. Sometime’s it’s necessary and maybe good for you. Maybe you need to relax, zone out, and work out your stress while running on a treadmill or elliptical or biking on a stationary bike. Yet, when you’re too distracted, you lose the connection to the real world, with what you are doing in the moment. You loose the feeling of the workout, the power, and the accomplishment as you get closer to your goal.
As you add mindfulness to your regular workouts, you also gain a few more benefits that we all could use more of.
- Improved Results: When you actively think about each thing your doing, each muscle you are using, and each motion you make, you are actually boosting the results of the workout by up to 22% according to one study.
- Happier Mood: When you pay attention to the whole workout and focus on each move as you do it, you end in a better mood knowing that you did your best and pushed the whole way through.
- A Better Connection: When you think about your workout and each body part, you are better connected to yourself. You have the ability to improve mind-body coordination with thought alone.
Think on this: your brain is not like a computer, it can learn. While you could go through each exercise with little thought, mindfully going through them enables your brain to gain though the experience too.
How Can You Be More Mindful?
It can be hard, especially in a gym, to be fully present in the now and not distracted by work, school, the future, or the past. It can be loud, distracting, and full of people with questionable music taste and volume levels. Yet, there are a few ways that we can work on being in the moment, concentrating on the now, the present.
Have A Now-Goal
I’ve helped friends get into shape in the past. I’m also in the middle of getting officially certified to be a personal trainer. Due to this, I know most people have an end goal. MadMan wants to tone up, my friend wants to loose her baby weight, another friend just wants to drop ten pounds. Yet, those take time to achieve, sometimes time to even see progress. What we need are shorter term goals. Things that we can accomplish in a day, week, or month. Here are some examples:
- Making it through the whole workout
- Not missing a workout for a week
- Working out all the muscles in one part of your body
- Doing cardio without stopping for a set time (walking and running count)
When we set goals like this, we can be present knowing that at the end of a workout, we have achieved something. It’s something I do myself. Every workout, I try to give myself a mini goal, something that I can work to for the day. I then reward myself with a walk home from the gym (rather than a jog.)
Start & End Happy
When you workout, you need to stretch, warm up, and cool down. By doing these things not only do you keep your body safe, but get in the right frame of mind as well. At the end of a workout, if you have time, add a few minutes of meditation or yoga. This allows you to focus on your body, feel the accomplishments and effects of your work.
Take Your Time
You don’t have to workout for an hour to be mindful. Even if it’s only for twenty minutes, try slowing down. We all have those workouts where we want to do too much in too short of a time. Next time, slow down. Take each movement in full and think about it. Focus on your core, your form, and your goals. Remind yourself to breathe. Not only will you keep your body safe from injury, you will importer performance and mood as well.
Sometimes zoning out can be good, sometimes we need those workouts. Yet, sometimes every workout we do has a distraction. If that’s the case, it might be time to be mindful, to add these tips in.
Start by just focusing on the now, the movement, and the goal. Add in mindful workouts like yoga and stretching. Focus on your form, you core, and your movements. Be present and remember to breathe.
You may learn that by being mindful while you workout, you gain rewards in more ways that one.
Need some “not boring” workout ideas?
- Cardio: run somewhere fun with your dog, bike around town.
- Rock Climb: Our preference, a great way to be present and work the whole body.
- Zumba (or other dance workout): Who thought working out could be that fun?
- Yoga: the ultimate mindful workout, it’s harder than it looks.
- Swimming: less stress on the body while still getting all the rewards.