Exercise in itself is a way to blow off steam and reduce stress. Some workouts however are harder than others. Sometimes we feel super charged and motivated and others are dragging and counting down the minutes.
However, we can improve the quality of our workouts by simply becoming more aware during them. Here are some tips for making the most of your precious gym time.
- Set an Intention: If you have a true reason why you are in the gym or out running in the park in the first place it can make a real difference. Sometimes we just go to the gym because we feel obligated and we are there just to get the workout over with. If we are able to leave that mindset behind and focus on the true reasons we show up for our workouts. An intention doesn’t mean thinking about ‘this summer’s bikini body’ or about losing 5 pounds. An intention is an ‘in the moment’ goal that can be achieved during the duration of the workout. Maybe you hope to achieve 10,000 steps. Run an extra kilometer. Add 5 pounds to the weight you lift. Or we can set mindful intentions as well– like focusing on your breathing or trying to concentrate all your attention on the task at hand. With a clear intention, we can kick off our workout on a the right foot.
- Stay off your phone: So this might be an intention you want to set every time you begin your workout regime. Too often we are distracted by social media and incoming messages and emails. Let your workout be straight up ‘ you-time’, a time to disconnect and focus on your fitness, strength and personal health. It’s one thing to use our mobile devices to listen to music or to check out a tutorial for a new exercise. On the other hand, hanging on facebook, taking the perfect gym selfie or answering your phone may distract and even take away from the effectiveness of your workout.
- Breathe. Breathe Breathe: Just remember to breathe. Sometimes a deep breath in and a long breath out, can make all the difference. We don’t have to be meditating or practicing yoga to discover the importance of a steady breathing rhythm. During hard cardio or heavy lifting, it’s important to first of all remember not to hold our breath, but also to use our breath to give us fuel to push on. In addition, synchronizing our breath to the movement can help us to improve our mindfulness in the present moment.
- Don’t Power Through: We have to try and train ourselves to not look at our workouts as something to overcome and get through. Our attitudes must shift in order for us to in turn boost our results. Think about how different these two approaches are to doing, for example, squats. We can either rush and do the set as fast as possible, up-down-up-down-up-down and bam we’re done. On to the next thing. OR, we can slow it down and really concentrate on what we are doing. Instead of focusing on speed, we should focus on our posture, taking a moment to stand straight, and releasing tension in the neck and shoulders, — squeezing the main muscle groups used during the movement (in this case the glutes at the top of each movement) –stabilizing our core consciously and listening to how our body feels.
So, let’s put some of these things into action. Today’s Mindful Task:
If you are planning a workout today, try to take these 4 tips in mind and at the end of your workout take 5 minutes extra to just sit cross legged, eyes closed and quiet. Turn off the music for a moment and reflect on your workout. Concentrate on your breathing and use this moment to unwind completely and relish in another workout completed. Finally take 5 deep breaths in followed by 5 deep breaths out. If you aren’t planning a workout, take these 5 minutes for yourself at a convenient point of the day and reflect on the way the day is going so far and an intention for the rest of it.