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Health and Fitness News

Work Out with Your Mind in Mind

Practicing mindfulness while you exercise your body.

Where is your mind while you exercise? Are you focused on completing reps, finishing your next mile, or burning more calories? Perhaps you’re lost in the song you’re listening to or are thinking through problems at work or home.

Ever wish there was a type of exercise like yoga that helped you be more mindful—one that gives you an intense cardio workout, but somehow allows you to stay mindful in a way that boosts your mood, relieves anxiety, and encourages you to be in tune with your body? Could such a workout be more effective at helping you reach your health and fitness goals?

In a word, yes. You can be more mindful as you exercise, regardless of what your routine looks like. If you’re hungry for a more mindful exercise routine, keep reading to learn more.

What Is Mindfulness?

Being mindful isn’t mystical or odd. It’s the practice of living in the moment. When you’re being mindful, you pay attention to what your body is doing and what your mind is thinking.

In the gym, that means pushing everything out of your head but what is in front of you. About to do the bench press? Forget about tomorrow’s meeting with executives and focus!

Why Stay in the Moment?

Instead of rushing through your workout just to cross something off your to-do list or zoning out as you go through the motions, why not stay in the moment? People who practice mindful workouts claim a host of benefits.

Staying focused and in tune with your mind and body during a workout helps you improve your form. When you use correct form with any exercise, you’re less likely to get injured and your workouts will be more effective.

As you perform each exercise, mindfulness helps you be in tune with the muscles that are working. Each rep you make and each step you take are on purpose and with a purpose.

By staying aware, you’re more likely to recognize and appreciate your body’s strength and ability to finish a challenging workout. You’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment when you’re done, knowing that you gave your best effort.

How It’s Done

Life is full of distractions that can hinder you from reaching your fitness goals. To stay mindful during exercise, here are a few tips.

You may be so used to zoning out during your workouts or using your workouts to think about everything you should be doing instead of exercising, so remind yourself why you’re sweating and huffing and puffing. Tell yourself the truth about exercise: it will give you more energy, it’ll help you sleep better at night, you’ll feel better about yourself, your health will improve, and you’ll feel less stressed and anxious.

Give each workout a specific and attainable purpose, then think about reaching that goal as you lift another set of weights, run another mile, or swim another lap. Your ultimate goal may be to lose weight, but it’s hard to see immediate results. Instead, focus on increasing your distance, improving your time, or challenging yourself to a new level. Think about which muscles you’re working or how many calories you’re burning.

Start each workout with a warm-up and end with a cool-down. Before beginning exercise, take a few minutes to hone in on how your body feels, take a few deep breaths, and visualize in detail what you expect during your workout and how you’re going to power through it. After your workout, take time to cool down. Stretch your muscles, relax, and enjoy the sense of accomplishment.

Remember to breathe during your workouts and stay aware of how your body feels. If it helps, set a timer every few minutes to remind you to be mindful. Being conscious about your breathing is one way to manage stress and to keep you focused on the moment.