My tennis coach often yells at me for watching where I want to put the ball on the opponent’s court, instead of watching the ball physically hit my racquet. Rather than being fully present and in the moment, I’m a step or two ahead in the future. The result is usually a bad shot.
Are you present, or “mindful,” when you exercise? Some studies suggest mindfulness can help both body and mind!
According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, mindfulness is defined as:
- The quality or state of being mindful.
- The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.
When we think of mindfulness and exercise, we traditionally think of exercise disciplines like yoga or Tai Chi. We can also be mindful in any type of exercise and studies are emerging on the subject.
A Dutch study examined the relationship between satisfaction and mindfulness to sustained physical activity. It found being mindful helped exercise feel more satisfying. People who are satisfied with exercise tend to exercise again.
In a separate study, researchers followed 553 U.S. college students and found mindfulness had a positive overall impact on health behaviors. Researchers reported, “Mindfulness is related to decreased stress, which in turn contributes to increased positive health perceptions and health behaviors. The findings support the utility of mindfulness in promoting physical and psychological health in college students.”
Want to bring mindfulness into your life? Check out these tips from the Harvard Medical School:
- Bring your attention to the sensations in your body.
- Breathe in through your nose, deep in the lower belly. Breathe out through your mouth. Notice the sensations of each breath.
- Proceed with the task with full deliberation.
- Engage your senses fully. Notice each sight, touch, and sound so that you savor every sensation.
- When you notice your mind has wandered, gently bring your attention back to the sensations of the moment.
Follow these tips while exercising or anytime to de-stress and be in the present moment!