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5 Ways to Practice Mindful Exercise5 Ways to Practice Mindful Exercise


Mindful Exercise

Mindful exercise helps you remove your focus from negative thoughts and distractions, and apply it to your body and breathing for improved exercise performance. Practice more mindful exercise with these tips.

Target your training

When strength training, focus all of your attention on the muscle group you are working. Keep your eyes on the muscle when possible. When performing a single bicep curl or a leg extension exercise, place your free hand on the muscle being worked and feel it contract and relax. This increase in focus can help you push harder during your workout.

Deep breathing

Your body’s demand for oxygen increases during exercise. Research shows that a greater supply of oxygen leads to improvements in exercise performance. The more oxygen, the longer and harder you can exercise. Focus on taking slower, deeper breaths to improve your respiratory fitness and to supply the body with more oxygen.

Mind over matter

During challenging exercise, your attitude and mental focus are just as important as physical strength and endurance. Sometimes increasing your running distance from 1.5 miles to 2, or staying in the plank position for 30 more seconds takes all you have. Cue the positive self talk, focus on the working muscles, and visualize yourself reaching your goal. All of these steps will carry you through the physical challenge of a tough workout.

Be present

Listening to music or watching a movie can help you through a workout, but their true role is to provide distraction. Break out of your distracted state, get outside, and pay attention to your environment. Outdoor exercise lifts the spirits and helps clear the mind. Concentrate on your movement, breathing, and the sights around you for a more rewarding workout and refreshing break from the daily grind.

Safe strength training

Distractions during exercise cause you to lose focus on the most important part of a workout: safety. Proper form, selecting a weight that is right for your fitness level, and mental focus ensure you execute each move correctly reducing your risk for injury.

Lori Rice, M.S., is a nutritional scientist and author with a passion for healthy cooking, exercise physiology, and food photography.
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