Mindfulness and Exercise

Bringing mindfulness into your exercise routine is a great way to help you stay focused, regulate your breathing and be aware of your body. Mindful fitness can help to change the effectiveness of your workout - when you aren't focused on what you're doing, this can affect how well you perform and your sense of satisfaction.

Here are some ways that you can incorporate being mindful into your fitness routine: 

Consider your purpose.

Having a purpose when exercising will give you something to work for and focus on. If you find yourself rushing to finish your workout or your mind seems distracted, it's important to reflect on your goals and why it's helping you. Some common examples of this include:

  • To work out for a certain period of time.
  • To feel good about yourself.
  • To sleep better/take better care of yourself.
  • To challenge yourself.
  • To strengthen a specific area of your body.
  • To reduce stress. 

Tap into your body. 

Bring attention to your body and how you're feeling - does your body feel different compared to your last workout? Are there any parts of your body that feel tired or sore? 

An easy way to stay present is to notice the smaller details during exercise, this could be the landing of each foot when running, feeling your body gliding through the water or how each muscle area feels when being worked during a class. This will help you to feel more physically in tune with the moment. 

Use your breath.

Breathing is one of the simplest ways to help you refocus. If you find that your mind wanders during exercise and you start to be distracted, take a minute to notice the thought, then return to observing your breathing and reconnecting with your workout. 

This can be known as an 'attention anchor'. This is something you can experiment with by switching up the rhythm of your breathing, for example using the rotation of bike pedals.

Note your surroundings. 

There are two ways of directing your attention to be more mindful - focused attention and open awareness. Open awareness encourages you to check out what's around you so you can be more in touch with the present moment. 

Is it busy in the gym today? How does this make you feel? This could spur you on or maybe you prefer to go at a quieter time. What can you hear around you? Does music help you to focus or does it distract you from your workout? Are you feeling hot/cold during your exercise? Perhaps this can be adjusted by what you choose to wear next time. 

Be kind to yourself.

Appreciate your ability and growth without comparing yourself to others. Thank yourself for sticking to your routine, showing up and taking care of your mind and body. Give yourself adequate time to cool down properly, regulate your breathing and stretch the muscles that you have worked, this is the time to relax and feel the effects of your hard work!