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Mindfulness and Exercise

What do you think about when exercising? Is it a time for you to let you mind wander, or do you tend to stay focused on the task at hand? I recently found myself becoming incredibly bored when working out and started to question if I could incorporate some meditation or mindfulness techniques into my fitness routine.

Is mindfulness during exercise for me?

When you hear the words meditation or mindfulness, you might imagine having to be extremely still and quiet. Think again! If this concept has always turned you off from giving meditation a try, practicing while exercising may be a great solution. Mindfulness in it’s most basic form is the ability to be fully present and aware of one’s surroundings without becoming overwhelmed. It involves simply acknowledging thoughts, feelings, sensations, and emotions, and allowing them to just be. The significance of practicing mindfulness during physical activity is that it could reinstate your purpose for doing so, it could allow you to stay focused during your workout, or even just permit you to enjoy the process more. Even if this isn’t something you can see yourself doing each and every time you engage in a workout, it may be beneficial to try incorporating it into your routine at least once a week.

How does it work?

So how do you actually practice mindfulness while working out? Take running for example. Incorporating mindfulness on a run might look something like noticing every time your right foot makes contact with the ground. You may notice every time you breathe in through your nose or noticing the colors of your surrounding environment. If you’re on a bike ride and practicing mindfulness, you might pay attention to how your hands feel on the handle bars, or the way your body moves as you turn a corner. Whatever form of physical activity you’re engaging in keep these tips in mind:

Remember your purpose

Think about why you’re doing what you’re doing, do you exercise because it keeps you sane, it gives you some time to yourself, or you want to reach a fitness goal? It’s easy to get caught up and simply go through the motions. Taking a moment to acknowledge why you’re engaging in this activity can help create and sustain a positive mindset.

Use your breath

If you have not had much experience with meditation or mindfulness, the breath can be a great tool to keep you focused. If you find your mind starting to drift towards your to-do list, or your weekend plans, remember and acknowledge your breath. Focus on breathing in and out, how it feels in your stomach and lungs, and keep your attention on this until your other thoughts drift away.

Recognize your body

Simply being aware of what your feeling is a great way to practice mindfulness. Do you feel pain somewhere? Do your legs feel stronger than usual? We often ignore sensations or push through them. By bringing our awareness to them, we allow ourselves to be in the present moment.

Written by GUADS staff member Emily with contributions from www.mindful.org

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