Hello….are you “there?”

When you begin your workout are you really “there?” Are you watching the clock, rushing through your workout, taking long breaks between sets, exchanging text messages that really could wait until you’re finished, or forgetting why you are really there in the first place?

Understandably, sometimes distracting yourself from your workout might help you get through it. But, being too distracted could actually cause you to lose that connection to what you’re doing. You know, those magical moments of feeling your own strength and power as you exercise. Noticing your progress. Remembering why you are there in the first place.

Mindfulness is a popular buzzword that most of us associate with meditation, yoga and spirituality, and is rigorously defined as controlled attentiveness. However, in recent years, scientists have found associations between mindfulness and physical health and exercise; more specifically, those who are more attentive during exercise are more likely to exercise again and are more satisfied with their workouts.

When you are mindful during exercise, amazing things can happen:

  • A stronger connection to your body: When you focus on your exercise, the muscles you are working, and what you’re actually accomplishing, you’ll get more out of each workout.
  • Better results: When you pay attention to what you’re doing, you improve the quality of your movement and the quality of your overall workout.
  • More satisfaction: When you know exactly what you’re working, how each exercise feels and whether you’re getting the most out of each exercise, you can end your workout knowing you did your best.

How to be more mindful during your workouts:

  • Give yourself enough time to be ready by warming up and stretching to fully prepare your body and your mind.
  • Remember why you’re exercising. Is it to help you have more energy for the day? To sleep better? Reduce stress? To help prepare for an upcoming athletic event? Because you know you need to make yourself a priority? Why are you there?
  • Take time to smell the roses….(Slow down). If you’re rushing through your reps, you’re not getting the full benefits of the exercise. Focus on your form and on the “positive” (lifting or pushing motions) and “negative” (lowering or pulling motions) muscle contractions. Faster is not always better.
  • Remind yourself to breathe. Breathing is one of the mos simple ways to bring you to the current moment. Always exhale on exertion. For example, when you’re performing a chest press, exhale on the push and inhale as you bring the weights slowly back to your chest. Your body needs oxygen!
  • Pay attention to your breathing cadence, pace of repetitions, the amount of time you take to rest between sets, and level of intensity during intervals. Check out your posture and form in the mirror if there is one available. Think about the muscles you are targeting and how they contract and relax.
  • End on a good note. It always feels good when you’re finished, right? Reflect on what you did, how hard you worked, and your progress. Perhaps you remember when lifting a five- pound dumbbell was a challenge and now you’re lifting a ten-pound dumbbell.
  • Stretch & rehydrate. Your body will be grateful.