When working out, is it best to:
- Talk on the phone, worry about your “to do” list, and hold your breath while exerting yourself?
- Pay attention to your breathing and your body, avoid judging yourself and others, and be thankful for what you can do?
We hope the answer is obvious. And if it is congratulations! You already know the definition of “mindfulness,” or returning your awareness to the present time and place. When you’re exercising, mindfulness helps make your workout effective and safe. It also helps you enjoy it, which means you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
Here are a few simple tips. Remember, it’s all about returning your awareness to the present. That’s not the same as “staying in the moment” – because no one can do that.
- Set an intention for your workout.
- Unplug. No podcast, reading or texting.
- Warm up with deep breathing and stretching.
- Notice how your body feels and reacts before and during the workout. Make necessary adjustments.
- Pay attention to your breathing. That’s the key to returning focus when your mind inevitably wanders, or you’re distracted.
Of course, sometimes it’s great to put on earbuds and mentally check out while you’re jamming to oldies on the elliptical machine.
But when you want to be really present and revel in the mind-body connection, keep coming back to the moment, to your breath, to what you’re doing with your body — right here, right now.