In our often over busy lives, many people have become so good at multi-tasking, that it’s no wonder we can easily feel disconnected and lost from the present moment. Turns out focusing on what you’re actually doing will help you get more out of your activity, and this includes exercise too.
Mindfulness is the practice of purposefully focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgement. Growing scientific evidence is proving that mindfulness is a key element to happiness and so how can we introduce mindfulness practices into our exercises?
- The first step is to accept that you are exercising and then to think about why; to improve your health, recover from an injury or surgery, relieve stress and/or feel better about yourself. Dedicate the allotted time completely to what you are doing, don’t think about what else you should or could be doing!
- During each exercise bring your attention to the body area you are working and actually feel your joints move, your muscles contract and notice if your heart rate and breathing rate are changing. Loud music, talking and paying too much attention to what other people around you are doing, will all pull your mind and body away from your own workout.
- Don’t rush through your exercises, slowing down and completing high quality movements will help you get the most physical and mental benefits out of each exercise. This is especially true when training a very weak muscle, as really focusing on what you are doing will help recruit all of the fibres in the muscles and ‘wake-up’ your nervous system.
- Having a purpose or goal for each exercise and workout will also build a stronger connection with your own body. Mindfully exercising also reduces the likelihood of an injury, as if you aware of what you are feeling, whether it a cramp, tightness, strain sensation or pain, then you have the opportunity to back off or stop the exercises. The old adage “No pain, no gain” is not true, so learning to listen to your body and protect it will serve you well. You’ll also become more aware of your surrounding, so will be less likely to trip or bump into something.
If you would like to learn more or need help to weave the above practices into your exercises, classes or outdoor activity, come and join me at Mindful Movement on Tuesday mornings at 8:00 am.
Written By: Catherine Ball, PT