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Are you exercising on autopilot?

Exercising mindfully: How to bring more mindfulness into your workouts

It’s officially 2023, which means that a lot of us have (re)started their workout regimens, determined to reach their fitness goals this year. No, this is not a blogpost about what you can do so that you will actually stick to your new year’s resolutions this time. Instead, I’d like to get into the concept of exercising mindfully. Most people will associate this term with activities like yoga or tai chi. But did you ever consider that mindfulness can also apply to fitness?

Exercising mindfully, mindful sporten
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Whether you’re a die-hard gym bunny or someone that has not yet found the motivation to do regular workouts, exercising mindfully is for everyone. In this blogpost, we’ll explore the benefits of exercising mindfully and give you some tips on how to get started. 

The benefits of exercising mindfully

Let’s get one thing straight: there is absolutely nothing wrong with listening to that playlist you’ve been obsessing about and going for a run. There is also nothing wrong with letting your thoughts wander while you’re working up a sweat on the exercise bike. However, not all your workouts should be on autopilot. When you’re constantly letting yourself get distracted during training, you will lose the connection with your body and your movements.Consequents: less effective workouts, hitting a plateau, not the progress you were hoping for. So I’d like to propose a challenge. Why not switch up those mindless workouts with exercising mindfully?

Exercising mindfully can help to perform better, improve technique/form, prevent injuries, get more in tune with your body and stick to your workout plan (okay, so maybe this blogpost is a little bit about sticking to your new year’s resolutions!). Furthermore, mindful exercise also strengthens a part of your body that you don’t really use when you’re zoning out – the part that’s between your ears.

How to bring more mindfulness into your workouts

Below, we’ve listed five tips to help you bring more mindfulness into your workouts:

#1. Set an intention before every training

Before you start a training, take a minute or two to set an intention for the workout you’re about to do. I’m not going to tell you what kind of intention it should be, because that’s totally personal, but try to narrow it down to a single sentence. If you think you’re going to forget about the intention because you are so used to training on autopilot, write your intention on your hand or on a piece of paper that you stick in a place where you can see it.

#2. Concentrate on your breath

Good breathing is crucial for cardio, but you should also pay attention to your breath during other forms of exercise, like weight training. Are you breathing correctly? Are you moving with the breath? How long does it take for your breath to go back to normal once you’re done with a set?

#3. Bring more awareness to your body

When you notice you’re losing focus, bring your attention back to your body. It’s very normal for your mind to wander – you may be thinking about the things you have planned after your training, or the next day. It’s a matter of learning to identify when it happens, and then simply steer your thoughts back to what your body is doing.

#4. Create some space for limited-distraction workouts

Like I mentioned before, there is really nothing wrong with doing a workout and letting your thoughts go where they want to go. But I’d recommend trying to alternate your regular workouts with ‘limited-distraction workouts’. If you’re easily distracted, start with a quiet home workout or go for a run very early in the morning, when the rest of the world is still asleep. From there, you can gradually expand to other environments.

#5. When you’re done, check in with yourself

What do you usually do when you finish training? Do you have a habit of rushing all the time, causing you to get straight back to the daily grind in order to tackle the tasks on your never ending to-do list? A lot of people do this! But if you want to get all the benefits of exercising mindfully, you should try to take at least a couple of minutes after your training to check in with yourself. How does your body feel now compared to before your training? Where you as focused as you wanted to be? Did you stick with that intention that you wrote down? A quick check-in also serves as a transition moment between your workout and the rest of your day.

Even if you are unable to work out or simply don’t want to, you can still benefit from exercising mindfully. Try these 7 steps toward a mindful walk!

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