Stress is the enemy, and mindful exercising is the ally! Have you found yourself in a blank state while exercising? Well, too much stress can ruin your focus and cloud your mind with negative thoughts.
We all feel a lot of stress in our lives, thanks to the unnatural and meaningless lives we are forced to live. It’s hard to find inner peace and live in the moment when everything seems to look like going downhill but is it truly that bad? How can we feel better? Well, exercising is a super effective way to improve your mood. However, if you can’t focus on what you are doing, you won’t be progressing and also won’t enjoy the process.
Imagine this; you arrived at the gym, and while exercising, you catch yourself looking at your watch all the time. Also, you rush through your routine or can’t focus on your muscles because you think about negative thoughts. It sounds horrible… Well, if you can’t focus, what’s the point of exercising? You’ll make almost no progress because your form is way off. Due to that, you’ll also feel bad.
What’re the important parts of mindful exercising?
Listening to your muscles and their response to the exercise you’re doing.
Paying attention to your pace, so, you don’t rush through your exercises so you can go for that full range of motion.
Focusing on your breathing, which helps you stay in the moment and help your muscles get fresh oxygen.
And finally, focusing on the resistance and the tension your body feels while exercising.
Definition of Mindful
In short, mindful exercising means staying in the moment while exercising. It can be done by focusing on breathing, form, physical sensations, and more. The unity that happens between the body and the mind will help your physical transformation and also help you gain a new perspective in life.
Check our list of “The Best Home Exercise Bike to Burn Fat Like Crazy” to start doing cardio at home.
Benefits of Mindful Exercising
There are lots of benefits to mindful exercising that can change your life little by little.
Due to mindful exercising the most visible benefit you will get is; you will get more out of your workouts. Once your focus improves, your results will improve accordingly because you’ll be able to check your form and listen to your muscles. Also, when you have a better mind-muscle connection, you will see the results easier because you will understand your body better. (1)
Besides that, mindful exercising will help you get more satisfaction out of your workouts. This underrated benefit can change your whole experience because being more in the moment will help you appreciate little bits and pieces of exercising.
Being in the moment will also help you avoid injuries. Suppose you are thinking about other stuff while heavy lifting, you may seriously increase your chances of injury. Imagine you are thinking about something or someone while doing heavy squats, what would happen if you had forgotten about a little detail related to your squat. You may have added more weight to one side, and that unstable weight can collapse in that direction. That’s exactly why mindful exercising is so important.
Another benefit of a healthy mind and muscle connection is, if you suffer from depression or anxiety, that strong connection will help you tremendously. We’ll get back to this topic later in our article.
How to Be More Mindful in Your Workouts?
Alright, since now you truly understand what’s mindful exercising and its benefits are, we can get to the tips and tricks of being more mindful while exercising.
There are lots of approaches to be more mindful; however, the first approach we’ll talk about, works for pretty much everybody.
1) Train your Mind Before Exercising
It’s quite important to get into the mindset of exercising before you start. When you arrive at your gym, if you start exercising right away, you won’t be prepared to lift efficiently. So, before you start to exercise, take some time to clear your mind by breathing deeply and focusing on your surroundings. Also, don’t forget to warm up slowly; this will lead you to get a better exercise experience.
2) Focus on the Exercise and the Muscle
When you start lifting, focus on the movement and how your body part actually feels. For example, if you are doing a dumbbell chest press, think about your chest while doing that exercise. How do your chest muscles feel? Is there any part of that’s discomforting? Do you feel the pump? Once your mind and muscle connect, you’ll progress more and feel much better.
It all lies in practice to make self-aware exercising feel natural.
3) Slow down
When you start to lift, you may only think about lifting the weight no matter what. Instead of that, lift in a controlled way in the raising part and for the lowering part, control the movement and lower a bit slower than your raising speed. Overall, focus on your core, posture, the body part you are exercising, your breathing, etc.
Keep in mind that your form comes first. It doesn’t matter how much you can deadlift if your form is off, it’s not a bragging contest that you can use your inflated PR’s. In fact, it’s about real empowerment, don’t lie to yourself because you can fool everybody but your body knows what’s up.
Don’t rush through your workout, ever.
4) Find Your Purpose
So, what’s your purpose for exercising? Do you want to lose fat, is that it? Some people exercise because they want to reduce their stress and some people exercise because they want to look better than others. Whatever your purpose is, you must have a motivating one to fuel your inner willpower.
By the way, of course, you can have more than one purpose to exercise. Our recommendation is, you should set small goals for yourself. For example, if you want to lose 20 kg, your first goal shouldn’t be losing that weight no matter what. Instead of that, set yourself a smaller goal like losing 5 kg, that’s a goal you can reach faster. Don’t expect to run before you can take your first step; it’s all about the process!
Check “32 Inspirational Fitness Quotes That Will Get You Going” to find your purpose.
Maybe you can’t find a purpose, check out to examples below to see if you can find one.
- Finishing what you started, keeping your promise to yourself. Take pride in what you do.
- Losing weight, look, and be fit.
- Making one body part look more defined, such as; shoulders or booty.
- Getting functionally stronger, to handle daily tasks without feeling any pain or discomfort.
- Being healthier, to live a longer and quality life.
5) Breathe mindfully
Almost everybody knows how important it is to breathe in and out while exercising, but does everybody do it properly? If you breathe in short bursts while doing your exercise, take it slow, you’re going way too fast.
Breathing is important, not only to supply your body with fresh oxygen but also to keep your mind from wandering. Whenever you feel like you get distracted, focus on your breath and its path in your body, how does it feel? By doing this, you’ll feel less stress and be more in the moment.
By breathing mindfully, you are declaring to your body and mind that you are in control of everything.
6) Get Rid of Distractions
So, how to be more present while exercising? Even if you are doing a low-impact workout like walking on a treadmill; stop listening to any music, watch TV or Netflix and talk on your phone.
There is something called the reticular activating system (RAS) which is a network of neurons in your brain. What it does is, it helps your brain to choose relevant information, and nowadays it’s having a super hard time. You know why? Because you are bombarding your mind with information from everywhere and this way too connected world is not good for your brain. It can no longer tell what’s right, wrong, good, or bad. Also, thanks to all this flood of info, your brain associates some ideas that shouldn’t be paired with some feelings.
Okay, let’s not get too complicated, just remember how strongly a notification sound can divert your attention?
Put your phone and similar devices away while working out, you won’t miss out on anything. In fact, you’ll realize all this time; you were missing out on life.
7) Reflect After You Are Finished
Once you are done with your exercise, just wait and bring your attention to your body.
- Listen to your heart rate.
- Feel your muscles and stretch.
- Breathe in a controlled and calming way.
- Finally, appreciate yourself, you have done an amazing thing today.
You should be good to yourself because you’ve given everything you got today to improve yourself. You didn’t only train your body, but also you trained your mind, this mentality can help you any part of your life and ease your struggles.
Mindful Exercise for Anxiety
When you feel anxiety, you may think like you are the only one feeling this way. Still, in fact, according to the World Health Organization, to their estimate, there are 264 million people with some type of anxiety disorder. (2)
So, does mindful exercising actually help your mental state? A study published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise shows that daily movement may lead to mental health benefits. Participants’ momentary stress, anxiety, and depression were found to be lower when moving mindfully instead of sitting or being zoned out. (3)
Even though we talked about mindful exercising, we can say that sometimes zoning out while exercising does help. You shouldn’t strain your body to control everything, just let your body go through the motion and let your mind wander because sometimes the best way to control is not to control anything. Nevertheless, if your mind wanders too much, you won’t be able to focus and appreciate what you are doing. It’s up to you to find the balance.
Before you go, let us know in the comments, do you prefer to exercise while zoning out or mindful exercising?
Thank you for reading.
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