A Mindful Workout

So often, we are in a rush while we work out. We fit exercise in the morning before work, at lunch break, or after work, before our house-related obligations begin. For many of us, it’s the only way we have time to work out, and that’s usually ok! However, taking a little more time every now and then for a “mindful workout” is a great way to add mindfulness to your routine. 

Mindfulness in daily activities reduces stress and depression and has even been shown to help people cope with pain and improve sleep. Mindfulness requires that we stay in the moment, focusing on the here and now. Forcing yourself not to think about the future or the past and remaining entirely in the present is hard, but like everything, you get better with practice. A mindful workout is a great way to practice mindfulness. Allowing yourself to let go of today’s problems, anxiety about the future, and past mistakes might sound hard, but there are steps you can take to help you find your calm in the storm. Here are some tips to help you practice a mindful workout:

  • Start with intention. What is your goal today? How can you best focus on that goal? Finding purpose gives you something to focus on, a goal to achieve, and something to feel good about. 
  • Give yourself enough time. You’ve carved out time in your day for this workout, so allow yourself the time to do it. Don’t rush through it.  If you find yourself rushing, plan for extra time. If you finish your workout before the time you have allotted, don’t think of it as wasted time. You can take more time stretching, meditating, or cooling down. Slowing down a little, especially while lifting weights, allows you to focus on your form because you can focus on each movement and how your muscles feel as they contract and relax. 
  • Pay attention to your body. While you work out, pay attention to what your body is doing and how it feels. Lifting weights? As you do so, focus on how each muscle feels while you exercise. Running? Pay attention to each foot strike and how it feels when your foot hits the ground. Not only does this keep you in the moment, it is a great way to ensure you have proper form!
  • Remember why you are exercising. Focus on why working out is a priority for you and how it will help you in the here and now. Does exercise make you feel better? Are you proud of yourself after you’ve completed a workout? Taking care of yourself is essential; exercise is part of that- you deserve to care for your body and mind. Whatever your reason, focusing on why you chose to exercise will help you feel less rushed. 
  • Breathe. Focus on your breathing. Mindful breathing is a great way to reduce stress and keep you in the current moment. Take deep breaths in and out, and remember that you are exercising right now. You have no other obligations at this present moment except to exercise. If you feel your mind wondering about other duties, use breathing to anchor your attention. 

Once you have completed your workout, take a mindful moment to reflect on your achievement. You are capable and strong. Take some time to cool down, stretch, and focus on how your body feels. Take some time to feel calm and relaxed. Savor that feeling. Mindful workouts are a great addition to practicing mindfulness and can help you feel capable of taking mindful moments outside of the gym, too!