Mindful movement changed the fitness game for me. I spent years exercising without knowing what my body needed or what it really felt like. Coincidentally, I was also never able to stick with any program or routine.
I would be invested and excited for a few months, then life would get hectic and suddenly, lifting weights or going to the gym was like the last thing I wanted to do. So I will stop and eventually, start again at some point in the distant future.
You may be familiar with this unusual relationship with your exercise routine. One of the things that helps me stay consistent once and for all is mindful movement.
Pilates brought this style of exercise to my attention, and over the past 10 years it has made a drastic change, not only in my exercise routine but in my life.
If you’re having trouble stopping and starting your exercise routine but want to be consistent enough to experience the benefits both mentally and physically, this could be the missing piece. Mindful movement reminds us that exercise is more than just showing up. It’s about slowing down, being in your body, and even just 10 minutes for you to focus on yourself.
Let’s talk about what mindful movement is and how it can help your exercise routine stick once and for all.
What is mindful movement?
Do you notice the sensation of your muscles contracting when you lift weights?
Can you breathe slowly and deliberately when moving your body during exercise?
How often do you listen to your body’s needs when choosing exercise each day?
All of these ways of thinking and approaching this exercise are part of mindful movement. This is the integration of mental awareness and physical effort. It helps you focus on what your body is doing—and how it feels—from one exercise to the next.
This style of movement has helped me stick with my workout routine once and for all. I started choosing exercises that my body craved rather than forcing something I didn’t want. I also began to notice the mental benefits of consistent mindfulness exercise, such as reduced stress and better sleep.
All of this shows me that just being there to practice is not enough. To stick with it, I needed to slow down, adjust my body, and document the impact each exercise had on my life, not just during but after.
How to incorporate mindful movement
Some of the most popular examples of mindful movement include yoga, tai chi, and of course Pilates. This is the basis for our exercises at Lindywell, but all types of movement can be done with a mindful approach using these basic principles:
- Slow down and breathe: Slow down each movement and use your breath to connect with your body as you do it. For example, exhale as you roll down to your toes, inhale at the bottom, and exhale as you roll back.
- Focus on what your body needs: Some days you may want to lift heavy weights but other days you may want to stretch lightly. This is especially true for women with monthly cycles. Choose the movement your body is craving every day instead of forcing something that doesn’t feel good.
- Set Intent: Your workouts do more than build muscle. It can help you tap into your creativity, eliminate anxiety, or fuel your day. What do you want to achieve after your workout? Set that intention and keep it in mind as you perform the movements so that it speaks not only of the movement itself, but also of how you feel as the result.
How Mindful Movement Creates Consistency
If your workout idea is to do a series of high-intensity exercises as quickly as possible, mindful movement may be outside your comfort zone. It’s okay, I’ve been there! But, believe me, if you’re willing to try, this will change the way you experience motion.
It could also be the missing piece to create more consistency in your workout routine. On that note, here are eight scientifically proven reasons mindful movement will keep your exercise routine (eventually!) sticking.
1. Stress Management
According to researchers at Penn State University, the combination of being mindful while moving your body has a huge impact. This state of being can help reduce stress, anxiety, or depression because mindfulness trains you to breathe deeply and focus on physical sensations rather than what’s going on in your mind.
Both of these actions lower cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, creating a relaxing effect in the body—even when the body is in motion.
When do you usually exercise the most? When you have a stressful day. However, that’s when you need it most. Consistently mindful advocacy with Pilates is one of the main ways I show myself to be the best version of myself for my kids, husband, and business because it helps me manage and reduce stress.
Without it, I would definitely struggle more to organize everything that life throws at me so I always prioritize it.
2. Less trauma
When you slow down to focus on the correct form, rhythm, and technique of an exercise, you’re less likely to injure yourself. This is important to consider because when you’re injured, you’re more likely to get out of your workout rhythm to spend time resting and recuperating.
Slow down with mindful movements to avoid injury in the first place. This way, you have less excuses to get out of your exercise routine. Let’s be honest, we all have enough excuses, don’t we?!
3. Sleep better
Mindful movement can enhance sleep quality and alleviate insomnia by regulating your nervous system. A regulated nervous system can stimulate the natural sleep-wake cycle, in addition to helping you control inflammation, boost oxygenation, and lower your resting heart rate, all of which help you. sleep better. Lindywell member Kristen experienced this after starting Pilates:
“I also noticed that I slept more deeply than before I started Pilates and my core strength increased noticeably, which is definitely encouraging and motivating.”
Record your sleep patterns and habits. When you slow down your workout, do you find yourself sleeping better at night? This benefit may just be enough to help you stick with your routine as we all feel so much better when we get quality sleep!
4. Mood Adjustment
Physical activity releases mood-enhancing hormones (signals of good mood after a workout) like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. When you integrate mindfulness into your exercise routine, those benefits are amplified.
That’s because mindfulness training improves emotional regulation, self-esteem recovery, and life satisfaction. Mindfulness during exercise can strengthen your mental health in general. This makes your exercise routine a lot more impactful in all areas of your life, giving you another reason to stick with it consistently.
5. Sports endurance
Endurance is important not only in your workouts but also in life. If you want to go hiking with friends or running around the yard with the kids or grandkids, you need fitness. According to the Journal of Neural Plasticity, mindfulness optimizes aerobic endurance (endurance). In other words, you can enjoy your favorite physical activities for longer when you stick with the practice of mindful movement. Yes, please!
6. Improve Energy Levels
Diaphragm-based breathing (deep, slow breathing) is an essential part of mindful movement of great benefit. It has been shown to enhance respiratory function, helping to circulate more oxygen to the brain and body, which, in turn, can boost your energy levels.
Research from the Journal of Health Promotion Perspectives also shows that combining exercise with meditation reduces fatigue. This means you feel alert and energized, which is another great reason to stick with it. I mean, is there anyone else who always wants more energy, or is it just me?
Here’s how Lindywell member Lori experienced this energy boost after she joined:
“I joined Lindywell in 2017 and I was hooked. I was able to be more consistent with exercise because of the shorter workout at any time of the day. I quickly built strength and tone, more energy and less stress!
Experience this for yourself with Lindywell’s Guided Breathing Exercise! Join our 14-day free trial to get access to all breathing sessions plus 275+ exercises!
7. Better Concentration
Mindful movement requires a different level of focus than just practice. The benefit of tuning in to each muscle contraction and physical sensation is that you are in the present moment. Consistently doing this boosts your brain function.
In fact, a new study from Frontiers in Psychology has found that mindfulness-based exercises strengthen neural networks that enhance focus, attention, memory, information processing, and memory. other important executive functions. Stick to your mindful movement routine and you may find yourself focusing better in every other area of your life!
8. Workout is more fun
When you’re connected to the sensory experience of a workout, it’s easier to get a sense of how your body feels and what it might need. This makes a fitness program more enjoyable, promotes health, and makes it easy to make it a habit.
It makes sense when you think about it: why would you keep doing something that you don’t feel good about or that you don’t like? Choose workouts you love—forms that change from day to day—that make you want to do it, instead of feeling like you need to force it.
Touching Mindful Movement with Lindywell
Mindful movement may be just the missing piece in creating a lasting exercise routine. You can bring mindfulness into any form of movement, and at Lindywell we help you do that through Pilates. With over 275 workouts lasting 10 to 30 minutes, plus breathing exercises, anti-inflammatory formulas, and more, you’ll stress less, feel great, and strengthen your mind-body connection. Start your 14-day free trial to access your workouts instantly!
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