How to Apply the Mindfulness Approach to Exercise
1. Think beyond calorie burning. If you exercise solely to change your thighs, tone your abs or lose weight, it might motivate you for a while, but probably not long-term. In this state of mind, exercise feels more like punishment than pleasure, and you’re less likely to stick with it. Also, if you’re stuck on what you don’t like, what is that doing to your mental health? Connect to what you do like, such as your strength and flexibility, while you exercise.
2. Be in the process. Be present to your body during exercise. Listen. Notice your energy, expression, joyfulness and playfulness. Use those good sensations to reconnect you to your sense of power, freedom and possibilities.
3. Try anything and everything. You never know what exercise you’ll end up loving until you try it. Go figure skating, try snow shoeing at your park, pick up a hula hoop, drop into a Nia class or go horseback riding. How do these make you feel?
4. It all counts. The body is designed to move and to move in a variety of ways. You may not even have thought of it as “exercise.” Activities such as gardening, walking to the post office and playing with your kids (or playing like a kid) count as movement. It doesn’t all have to be 20 minutes of structured activity at your target heart rate.
Exercising for the rest of your life is about enjoying it. Realize that moving your body can feel good, and exercise is a positive addition to your life. Mindfully focus on the internal benefits rather than the external. Most importantly, be active because you want to, not because you have to.
A huge thanks to Dr. Meyer for the healthy reminder and thought-provoking post! Do you follow the Mindfulness Approach to exercise? Will you now? Tell us! —Jenn