Mindfulness is the state of being conscious or aware of something. The term is often used with regards to meditation and self-reflection, as a way to bring awareness to things we want to understand or change. Mindfulness isn’t usually associated with exercise; in fact, exercise is typically thought of as a mindless activity, one where we put our headphones in, turn the music on, and tune out. The truth is that bringing mindfulness to exercise is a powerful way to enhance exercise by improving your relationship with your body and decoding its messages. Here are three ways you can implement being mindful into an exercise routine to get better results.
3 Mindful Ways to Get Better Results from Exercise
1. Learn to speak your body's love language. One of your body’s love languages is movement! Look at exercising as building a relationship with your body; consider the body to be your best friend, confidant, and ally. Relationships take time to develop, especially if the relationship has not been previously prioritized for cultivation. Like any successful relationship, respect, honesty, and transparency with yourself create a solid foundation on top of which a deep connection can flourish.
It is said that we have two ears, two eyes, and one mouth because we are created to listen and watch twice as much as we are to speak. This is of paramount truth when it comes to learning how to communicate with your body. Over the course of our lifetime, our body will send us millions of messages. Wouldn’t it be great if we knew how to decode those messages and give our bodies exactly what they need?
One way to decode the messages is to use your exercise program as a way to get to know your body. Take the time during exercise to bring your full attention to what your body is saying. Many people want to get done with a “good workout” so they can continue on with their day. Let this be your reminder that rushing to finish a product turns out a sloppy result. Give yourself the time and space required to get to know your body better and nurture it.
2. Increase focus. When you are doing a training session, the more focused attention you bring to the table the more benefit you will get from the training. The more focused you are, the better you get to know your body and understand its needs. The time you spend exercising is quality time with yourself, and how present you are during that time will reflect in your results.
Consider your exercise time like a date with yourself with the intention to learn about you. Set aside an uninterrupted period of time to complete your workout, shut off your phone, and set boundaries with people who might interrupt your workout. There are a million ways to distract ourselves in our daily lives; let working out be the time where you turn inward and cultivate presence with yourself.
3. Speak kindly to yourself. Pay attention to the thoughts that run through your head when you are working out -- and during your daily life. How do you encourage or discourage yourself? Would you speak the same way to a beloved friend, family member, or child? Working out is a great time to practice kind self-talk, so you can cultivate a more loving relationship with yourself and your body. We often take out self-aggression on our bodies, trying to mold them into a particular shape and berating them if they don’t look or perform the way we want them to. Exercise is often used as a punishment for the way our bodies look or the food we shouldn’t have eaten. While exercise can be a punishment if that is your thing, using exercise in a loving and gentle way as a reward to your body for everything it does for you is perhaps a healthier approach. View the ability to move as a privilege and a way to show your body you love it… as we mentioned above, movement is one of your body’s love languages! Another reason to speak more kindly to yourself is that you're much more likely to stick to an exercise program and reap the benefits of consistency when you appreciate your body and enjoy the time with yourself.
Mindfulness can make a huge difference in your enjoyment of training and cultivation of a positive relationship with yourself, which are of tantamount importance when it comes to getting lasting results from exercise. Try implementing the three tips from this article and let us know what you observe!