Mindful movement

How to combine mindfulness and fitness.

The individual benefits of mindfulness and fitness are well known and combining the two is even better. But how exactly do we do it?

“Mindful exercise can be as simple as raking leaves, pruning plants or washing windows,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Carla Marie Manly. “You need not be on a treadmill or in a yoga class to increase your fitness. Ordinary tasks – especially those that require a bit of loadbearing work, aerobic activity, and stretch – have the power to increase your fitness level.”

She explains that research has shown that “mindfulness and fitness work beautifully when combined – when we exercise with a mindful attitude, we increase our physical and mental health.”

Personal trainer and owner of LisaFIT Lisa Yee shares three ways you can combine mindfulness and fitness.

  1. Moving meditation: Start with an empowering statement, she says, such as “I AM ___.” While doing some sort of cardiovascular exercise, repeat the statement like a mantra.
  2. Tune in: “Close your eyes while working out when you feel like you are reaching your limit. Find your inner strength,” says Yee.
  3. Use music: “Create an inspirational playlist that reminds you of positive times in your life to play when you are feeling less than motivated to exercise.”

Manly reminds us that when exercising mindfully, it’s important to try to stay in the present moment.

“Rather than using your exercise time to ruminate or create to-do lists, your sense of well-being will increase when you stay in the moment – focusing on your breath, the sensations in your body and the beauty of the present moment,” she says.

To figure out what mindful fitness looks like for you, Manly says it helps to know your exercise preferences.

“If you thrive when exercising alone – if solitary exercise gives you greater peace – then you’ll maximize the benefits of exercise by avoiding crowded settings. If, however, you find serenity by enjoying the company of a friend or two, then your sense of being present – and mindful – will increase when you are connecting with others.”