Have you ever approached a workout with the thought that you'll just turn your music up, put your head down and get on with it? Maybe you need to try a spot of mindful exercising...
What exactly is "mindfulness" anyway
The Oxford Dictionary describes mindfulness as:
A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
So why should I do it?
Unfortunately for too many of us, we try to distract ourselves from our workout in the hope that it will make it easier. Alternatively, we feel like we don't really have the time to be working out as there's other important things we should be doing, so we constantly clock watch or rush through our workouts thinking about all the other stuff we have to do.
We might think that by doing this we are making things easier on ourselves, but could we actually be distracting ourselves into a bad workout?
Benefits of Mindful Exercising
It's important that when we exercise we take some time to really think about what we're doing - if we don't, we could end up being so detached from the moment, that we end up losing that awesome feeling of the strength of our bodies, just going through the motions and not getting the results you want or even compromising form which could lead to injury.
One of the best things about completing a tough workout where you challenge yourself both physically and mentally is the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment you get after it. Knowing that you are that much closer to your goals helps you stay motivated and consistent and ready to get moving again as soon as possible.
How To Be More Mindful During Your Workouts
1. Have a plan
Before you start your workout decide upon what kind of exercise you're going to focus on, whether it be HIIT training, cardio, LISS or a certain muscle group. Going in unprepared and performing exercises half-heartedly will lead to you thinking you had a bad workout or just throwing in the towel all together.
2. Allow yourself me time
Start treating your workout as important meetings in your schedule. Allowing yourself an hour completely to yourself to help improve your fitness will make you feel more equipped to deal with the pressures and stress of everyday life. Switch off from work, family and friends and concentrate fully on your workout.
The reason we often feel so calm and collected after a workout could be due to our bodies initially recognizing exercise as stress. In order to protect it, it releases a protein called BDNF. This has a protective and reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch - allowing us to feel at ease, settled and like we've achieved clarity after exercising.
3. Set yourself a goal
Plan your workout and set yourself mini goals to help you feel motivated. Aim to run 2 minutes longer than your last session, try that advanced yoga pose or increase the weights your lifting.
4. Remember why you're doing it
Aside from the physical achievements that exercise can bring, always keep in mind the mental benefits too. These might be anything from allowing you to run around the park for longer with your children, help you to sleep better, set your mind up to feel focused for work or just to help you wind down after a stressful day - you'll never leave a workout wishing you hadn't done it.