Exercise More Mindfully, Get Better Results
We are easily distracted even when we should be focused. The gym is a proof of it – as soon as you walk into one, you will likely see people who should be concentrating on their exercises but aren’t doing so. Aside from their exercises, they are also watching the television mounted on the wall, reading through their messages on their smartphones, and even chatting with others.
Even listening to music on your headphone while running on a treadmill can be considered as a distraction although it can also be considered a motivational tool. The difference lies in whether the object or added activity contributes to your mental focus – if it doesn’t, then it’s a distraction that you are well-advised to dispose of.
Of course, multitasking isn’t wrong because the times demand it in many cases. But there are many benefits to being more mindful when you’re exercising, especially in harnessing the power of your mind in getting better results for your body.
Easy Tips for Mindful Exercise
You can start being mindful, fortunately, on a gradual basis. Your journey begins with these simple yet effective tips.
First, have a mindful exercise plan even before you step foot inside a YogaWorks gym – or any gym, for that matter. The important thing here is your determination to decrease the distractions and increase the mindfulness in your movements, whether your workout for the day focuses on yoga or on weightlifting.
As soon as you enter the gym, you should resolve to avoid the people and things that can distract you from your main goal – to get an hour of strenuous exercise that will become a stepping stone to your desired physique. Instead, you should use your exercise time to focus on your personal development, on being aware of where your body is in its space, and on your correct form and technique.
Second, get on the naked workout approach, if possible. You must still be in your proper workout gear but you have to be completely unplugged in many ways. You may, for example, skip the fancy accessories, the music playlist, and the goals and just go for running on a treadmill for 30 minutes and biking on the stationary bike for another 30 minutes.
You will again just pay attention to the small details that make exercise such an enjoyable rush even when you work hard at it. These details can include the feel as your foot makes contact with the treadmill, the sound of your breath and heart, and the contraction of your muscles. Your sense of mindfulness coupled with gratefulness for your body’s health will do wonders for your overall well-being.
Third, practice the art of visualization. You can learn it via yoga classes where you will be taught about concentrating on your breathing, imagining the details when you achieve your goals, and believing that you actually achieved them. But you can also practice it even when you’re on the move, such as by taping a vision board on the treadmill so that you can see it while running.
You may also adopt a mantra that can become your motivational words. You will find that you can be your own cheerleader when you have a mantra that you can repeat to yourself whenever you get down or lazy.
Effective Results from Mindful Exercise
When you have become more mindful during exercise, you will find that it has several benefits in and out of the gym. You can break down large goals into smaller ones, which are more manageable and achievable. You may be discouraged about the prospect of running a marathon six months from now because the distance and duration seem too long.
But when you can focus more on your exercise goal in the here and now, such as a 30-minute brisk run, you will not be intimidated by the marathon distance and duration. This is also true when you start comparing your body, workout, and progress with others in the gym – you become more mindful of your own body so you have no time for unproductive comparisons. Your focus on the smaller yet more immediate goal becomes a tool so that you can go further and farther on your next workout.
The mind-body connection isn’t just hocus-pocus or hogwash invented by yogis. Modern science continues to find proof that it’s a real connection but you don’t need science to prove it for yourself either.
When you concentrate on the specific muscle being worked, you will observe that it has increased muscle activity specifically in terms of size and strength. You must obviously perform the exercise, such as sit-ups and crunches for your core muscles, and supplement the work by telling yourself instructions – squeeze your abs, for example. Think of it as your muscles cue to do the work even before the actual work gets done.
People who have mastered mindful exercise also assert that it was instrumental in their ability to master the most challenging techniques, thanks to the emphasis on focus. Mindful exercise may even be useful in better pain management.