Making exercise a priority in your life is an admirable endeavor. The health benefits of getting a workout in a few times a week are well-documented, and many people who struggle with beginning an exercise regime often report feeling both physical and mental improvements after the regime becomes a part of their normal routine. Increased energy, improved heart health, reduced obesity, reduced blood pressure—these are just a few of the many benefits that come along with regular exercise.
However, so many of us exercise in an almost zombie-ish way. We lose our focus, and even willingly and gladly sacrifice it. Let’s face it: working out is sometimes a tedious thing, and when you’re not really feeling like putting in time at the gym or going for a jog, exercise can be a bit irritating—but we do it anyway, because we know it’s good for us. We put in our earbuds and climb the stair mill, or we zone out on the television while working the elliptical, allowing exercise to become something that happens to us while we operate on autopilot.
What would happen if we took our quest for mindful living into the realm of exercise? I am here to say that I think we could get more out of our workouts, both at the body level and at the mind level, if we stopped being passive participants in our active moments and started to apply mindfulness techniques while exercising. Give it a try! What have you got to lose?
The next time you are hitting the gym or going for a run, leave the MP3s in your bag and take your eyes off the television. Focus on your breathing, feel your muscles as they work and be at one with your body and what it is doing in the moment. I suspect you’ll agree that the mindful workout is a more thorough and invigorating workout than the standard “ho-hum” exercise we so often do when our bodies are simply going through the motions. Give it a shot and feel free to discuss your results in the comments below!