Applying Mindfulness To Fitness: Wellness Doctor Rx
Mindfulness is a valuable tool for reflection and centering/balancing mind and body. Applying mindfulness to fitness can impact the body’s physical well-being and can be incorporated into an existing routine to get the most out of every workout. Applying mindfulness to a fitness routine includes increased satisfaction after a workout and a strengthened commitment to engaging in healthy activity.
The benefits of applying mindfulness to workouts include the following:
- Increased emotional control.
- Improved overall wellness.
- Increased coping skills to lower blood pressure and reduce stress.
- Stay more consistent with a fitness routine.
- Workout time builds a stronger relationship between the mind and body.
Mindfulness is a mental state that enables individuals to experience their current surroundings uninterrupted by thoughts, worries, or distractions. The objective is to maintain awareness during an activity, such as exercising, and not focusing on judging oneself or the surroundings. It is a form of getting oneself in the zone during their fitness routine that brings an enhanced awareness of the senses like:
- Awareness of the location and movement of the body in space.
Meditation is a mindfulness exercise that can enhance relaxation, increase the ability to focus, and reduce stress. Different types of meditation range from:
- Mantra-based meditation – where a word or phrase is repeated to act as an anchor during an activity.
- Movement meditation involves using light exercises like yoga, tai chi, or walking to build a stronger connection with the body.
Research has shown that mindfulness is linked to improved overall mental health. One study found that completing a mindfulness-based stress reduction program or MBSR helped increase mental wellness. The analysis discovered that participants who practiced regularly through the program noticed improvements in their quality of life and coping skills during moments of stress. Other mental health benefits include:
- Increased short-term working memory.
- Increased focus and attention control.
- Decreased rumination.
- Increased motivation and emotional capacity and regulation.
- Sustains long-term positive behavioral changes.
One study of individuals with chronic hypertension found that engaging in mindfulness training two hours per week for eight weeks resulted in a clinically significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings. Other physical health benefits include:
- Positive physical responses in the body.
- Chronic pain alleviation.
- Higher sleep quality.
- Successful long-term weight loss.
- Improved and increased healthy habit-building.
- Increased motivation
- Feeling more connected to your body
- Staying on track with fitness goals.
How to apply mindfulness to get the most out of a workout. Exercises like walking, lifting weights, or participating in a fitness class are great ways to practice mindfulness. A few tips for creating a more enjoyable, effective, and mindful workout session includes:
Set A Workout Goal
Before starting a workout, it’s recommended to set an intention (things an individual aims for, strives to achieve, and is related to the mental and physical state. This could be something along the lines of:
- Believe in me.
- Keep an open mind.
- Try my best.
- Remember to enjoy the workout.
- A simple and short intention can ground the workout process.
- It has been proven to enhance commitment and completion of regular physical exercise.
If you begin to struggle or experience a wandering mind during an activity, remind yourself of the intention to focus on the current moment and get back in the groove.
Practice Visualization During the Workout
Visualization is effective for enhancing mindfulness during physical activity, as it allows the brain to create impulses that help complete the task. It is defined as focusing on movement and visualizing performing the physical routine to the best of your ability.
Mix Up the Workout Environment
The workout space plays a significant role in overall exercise efficacy, especially when working out outdoors. Exercising outdoors, like an outdoor class, hiking, or weight-lifting in the backyard, allows the body to attune to nature and the surroundings. This is an effective and simple way to reduce mental fatigue, improve mood, and decrease the perception of the overall effort to maintain motivation to exercise for longer and with more intensity.
Breathe From the Diaphragm
The importance of timing movements with breathing and breathing from the diaphragm can positively impact the autonomic nervous system to promote increased emotional and psychological control. Breathing from the diaphragm while exercising can intensify relaxation and increase the enjoyment of physical activity. The Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Team can educate individuals on applying mindfulness and develop a personalized treatment and fitness program for restoring, improving, and maintaining overall health.
Demarzo, Marcelo M P, et al. “Mindfulness may both moderate and mediate the effect of physical fitness on cardiovascular responses to stress: a speculative hypothesis.” Frontiers in physiology vol. 5 105. 25 Mar. 2014, doi:10.3389/fphys.2014.00105
Mantzios, Michail, and Kyriaki Giannou. “A Real-World Application of Short Mindfulness-Based Practices: A Review and Reflection of the Literature and a Practical Proposition for an Effortless Mindful Lifestyle.” American journal of lifestyle medicine vol. 13,6 520-525. 27 Apr. 2018, doi:10.1177/1559827618772036
Ponte Márquez, Paola Helena, et al. “Benefits of mindfulness meditation in reducing blood pressure and stress in patients with arterial hypertension.” Journal of human hypertension vol. 33,3 (2019): 237-247. doi:10.1038/s41371-018-0130-6
Wieber, Frank, et al. “Promoting the translation of intentions into action by implementation intentions: behavioral effects and physiological correlates.” Frontiers in human neuroscience vol. 9 395. 14 Jul. 2015, doi:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00395
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