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4 Tips for Being Mindful During Your Workout

smiling woman on a Planet Fitness treadmill
Before you begin your workout, take a minute to focus on how your body is feeling.

by Autumn Jones

If you've been hearing a lot about mindfulness lately — but aren't quite sure what it means — you're not alone. While some people may think it's a code word for meditation, mindfulness doesn't require sitting on a tiny cushion (or sitting at all, for that matter).

As explained by Psychology Today, "Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present." Tapping into those good vibes isn't just for enlightened yogis and Zen masters; being mindful is for everyone and can easily become a daily habit, even when working out!

How to Be More Mindful

Mindfulness is all about enjoying what you're doing at the current moment. It can help you stop obsessing over what's already happened, and let go of worrying about the stuff that hasn't happened yet.

Just think about what you're doing right now and give it your full attention — that's being mindful in a nutshell.

Once you start to get the hang of mindfulness, you'll begin to notice some amazing results. Being mindful has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, according to Mayo Clinic. It can also boost your mood!

Bringing mindfulness into a workout routine has its own set of results that all gym-goers can appreciate. Before your next trip to the gym, use these four tips for being mindful to amplify your experience.

1. Connect to Your Body

The more you tune into the activity you're doing, the better chance you have to hear what your body is telling you. Before you begin exercising, take a minute to focus on how your body is feeling.

Is anything sore, tight or uncomfortable? How is your energy level? When you check in with your body before diving into a workout, you can learn how to best proceed with your warm-up and exercise plan.

2. Come Back to the Moment

Don't stress if your mind starts to wander when you work out — that's totally normal! Whenever you notice that happening, just shift your focus back to your breath, your form, or your pace. It may take a little practice, but keep at it.

Being mindful of each curl and press can improve your form and results, which will give you more bang for your exercise buck. Not to mention, you'll feel your mood improve and your stress melt away. Now that's something to celebrate!

3. Use Your Breath

It doesn't matter if you're walking on the treadmill, going through your circuit, or stretching; staying focused on your breath helps you be more mindful. Breathe out when you lift a weight and breathe in when lowering it, Mayo Clinic suggests. If you're doing cardio, breathe in whatever rhythm and way (through the mouth or nose) feels right to you — just stay conscious of your breath.

4. Try an App

Using an app is great for mindfulness newbies as well as seasoned pros looking to keep it fresh. If you need a boost to get your mindset in the right place, try a mindfulness meditation app like Headspace to calm your mind before your workout. These sessions can prepare you to be present during every squat, lunge and stretch.

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.