Practicing Mindful Fitness
Practicing mindful fitness has been a game-changer for me. I used to hate working out. There are days that I still drag my feet to exercise, I’ll admit that. But ever since learning about mindfulness and learning how to choose more mindful fitness activities, my stamina, motivation, and attitude have all improved!
Exercise is an important aspect of living a well-rounded life of health and wellness. But lots of times, working out itself can really well… suck. You may find yourself getting up in your head and start saying to yourself “I’m so out of shape.” “I’m never going to lose this weight.” “This is too hard.” Sound familiar? And yet, walking out of the gym can leave you with a sense of accomplishment and an endorphin high. You feel great and begin to question why you ever hated working out in the first place.
Today we’ll talk about ways to start practicing more mindful fitness activities. Adding mindfulness to everyday life can lead to higher life satisfaction, more gratitude, improved mental health, and so many other benefits! For more information on how mindfulness can change your life, check out the first part in this series, What is Mindfulness?
- Mindful Monday Series Part One: What is Mindfulness?
- Mindful Mondays Series Part Two: Being Mindful with Body Scans
- Mindful Mondays Series Part Three: Mindfulness for Self-Confidence
Mindful Fitness Tips
Observe your body
First and foremost: focus on your breath. This is Mindfulness 101, folks. When you learn how to focus on your breath and tune into your body, mindfulness is going to come a lot easier. I practice mindful fitness activities this way. Focusing on your breath will help you tune into what your body needs. Do you need to slow down? Or in the words of Tony Horton, are you “doggin’ it?” (Who else is a P90X fan?!) For me, listening to the rhythm of my breath helps me to totally engage in what I’m doing. One of my favorite mindful fitness activities is running. When tune into the cadence of my footsteps and the rhythm of my breath, I enter this almost meditative state. A lot of people hate running. For me, it’s my time to get in touch with my soul and sort of zen out!
In addition, learning how to observe your body is important for several reasons. First, it helps you practice good form. Mirrors are set up in the gym not for glamour purposes but rather to help you improve your form. Take advantage of them! Many people are intimidated by the mirrors in gyms. In reality, they are a great tool to help you engage in more mindful fitness routines. Second, it can prevent injury. When you learn how to be more mindful of your physical movements, you’ll know when to stop and when you can keep going. Doing a gazillion crunches may feel like an accomplishment until you’re like me and tear something because you’re not paying attention. Yeah, that’s happened twice now.
Observe your Experiences
It is almost too easy to get sucked into the downward spiral of “it’s hard to breathe. I’m dying. I can’t do this. I need to stop.” But how much of what we say is actually true to the facts? Part of practicing a mindful fitness activity is learning how to observe what you’re experiencing but don’t judge it. Just notice it. Sounds hard right? Well, it is.
Eventually, as you practice, you’ll learn how to just notice what you’re feeling but won’t feel the need to judge it (read: complain about it.) Think about it: When you complain about how hard something was or how much it hurt, do you really want to keep going? Likewise, do you ever start feeling so good (cocky) about your performance that you start to slack off? When you just notice how you feel without judging it as good or bad, you’ll be able to fully participate in the activity.
Observe your Surroundings
I am all about exercising outside whenever possible. The primary reason that I encourage outside exercise is because it’s so much easier to be mindful of your surroundings when there are interesting things to look at! Gyms are set up to help take you OUT of the moment. It’s almost too easy to tune out. TVs are set up everywhere, headphone jacks are equipped on almost every machine, and smartphone holsters are plentiful. When you exercise outside, you’re more likely to experience some pretty amazing things. Notice the fresh air. Listen to the birds singing, the dogs barking, and the wind blowing. Shifting from the inside out can help immensely if you’re struggling with not judging your experiences. Not to mention, it’s great for your soul!
How do you practice mindful fitness? What are some of your favorite fitness activities? Let me know in the comments!