I have to remember to answer that important email at work. What will I make for dinner tonight? Are there any vegetables that are about to expire? I haven’t seen that friend in a long time; how is she doing? Maybe I need to start getting to work earlier so I get closer to that promotion. Oh I need to fit in a workout.
A running to-do script is continuously going on inside our heads. Worries, questions, stressors are a constant presence in our mind. It is often difficult to shut off our brains from everyday stressors and disconnect. We keep over-analyzing every situation until our eyes shut at night. And even then, it can be difficult to go to sleep since our minds keep racing.
Our brains are overflowing with all the things we need to do from work-related issues, family issues, personal issues, and more. These everyday stressors can affect our workout! Our cluttered minds cause us to shift away from what we are doing. During fitness, this means we work out on autopilot; just going through the motions. We allow every thought that has nothing to do with our present workout to wander in.
Not being present during fitness causes us to enjoy that time less. We are just going through the motions and we don’t even allow ourselves to enjoy it.
This is a problem since it affects whether or not we will keep our workout goals. Multiple studies relating to exercise behavior show that one of the most reliable indicators of whether people will continue to exercise is that they find exercise satisfying. Whether they enjoy being active.
So being present will allow us to enjoy our fitness time. And this, in turn, will lead us to keep exercise in our lives.
A recent study published in The Journal of Health Psychology, published findings that support the fact that people who reported being most satisfied with exercise were also the people who exercised the most, and vice versa. Additionally, people who reported being mindful during exercise also generally reported satisfaction with exercise.
Kalliopi-Eleni Tsafou, a Marie Curie Research Fellow at Utrecht University who led the study, explains that the message is “that mindfulness may amplify satisfaction, because one is satisfied when positive experiences with physical activity become prominent. For those experiences to be noticed one must become aware of them. We would argue that this can be achieved by being mindful.”
Being present simply means being engaged physically, mentally, and emotionally in what you are doing in this moment. Being fully involved and attentive to what is happening with your body, mind, and heart at that precise instant.
The opposite is focusing on the past or the future. Thoughts of the past most often dwell on what could’ve been or what would’ve happened and thoughts of the future dwell on what’s going to happen or what might happen if…
Stop trying to multi task and focus only on one thing. Let go of everything that happened before that instant and everything that will happen after. Being in complete awareness of what is happening in the present moment.
“There is only one time that is important — NOW! It is the most important time because it is the only time that we have any power.” — Leo Tolstoy
Being mindful of every moment in our lives is incredibly important. So we can practice being present during our workouts and take advantage of that time. We are all busy, so doing both things at once sounds ideal! We get a workout in and we practice being present so that it ultimately transcends to other areas of our life.
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Originally published at medium.com