It’s all in the mind: how concentrating can improve your fitness

mindful exercise

If you are prone to balancing a newspaper on the handlebars of your spin bike, chatting on your phone while running on the treadmill, or mentally planning a work presentation during your legs bums and tums class, you could be preventing your body from reaping the full benefits of exercise.  

According to the Guardian, the key to fitness is in the concentration. ‘Mindful exercise’ is a technique employed by fitness fanatics who want to maximise the effectiveness of each workout they endure by adopting only five simple steps. These steps can be applied to any daily exercise, whether it’s walking to work or running at the gym.

1. Intention – ‘Physical exercise begins before you start moving’, writes the Guardian. Instead of ambling into the gym begrudgingly, wishing you were at home watching TV, try to get into the spirit of things. There truly is no point in going to the gym if you don’t to some extent enjoy it. You will only end up feeling unhappy or guilty if you give up. If you want to get fit, you have to want to get fit. Apply your mind. Think about the exercise you are about to do and envision it in your head. Forget about work or home commitments. Just know that for the next hour or so, you must focus solely on your body.

2. Breathing – Getting enough oxygen is absolutely crucial for a good, effective work out. It may sound obvious, but a surprising number of people do not breathe properly during exercise, meaning that muscles become oxygen-starved. This can lead to a feeling of tension, tiredness, weakness and nausea. To make sure your muscles are working hard, take long, deep breaths regularly and steadily. You should aim to take a deep breath during the less strenuous phase of exercise, then exhale slowly during the more strenuous phase.

3. Timing – Concentrate on the rhythm of your movements. When we are tense, we tend to move jerkily. This can lead to injury and prohibits the body from reaching its potential. Try instead to slip into an easy, natural rhythm; one that is sustainable and comfortable.

4. Form – When you’re working hard and becoming exhausted, it is easy to slouch. Bad posture can lead to injury or long term damage. To exercise safely, concentrate on the position of your body. Activate your abdominal muscles and ensure your spine is as straight as possible.

5. Recovery – In order to recover sufficiently between or after exercises, it is important to focus on your level of breathing and your posture. If you are hunched over and breathing hard, you are restricting the amount of oxygen you can take in and preventing recovery. Good recovery is crucial to avoiding injury.

Getting fit should be a long term goal. It will not happen after only a few weeks of the gym. To reach your fitness goals you will need persistence, drive and concentration. The more in tune with your body you are, the more likely you are to want to exercise regularly.

If you would like help reaching your fitness goals, you may wish to consult a qualified life coach. To find out more about how life coaching could help, please visit Life Coaching Areas. Alternatively, you can search for a life coach near you by using our search tool.

View and comment on the original Guardian article. 

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Zoe Thomas

Written by Zoe Thomas

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