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How to Be Present and De-Stress at the Gym

woman viewing her cell phone in a locker room
Consider turning off social media notifications when you're in the gym. Instead of being distracted by the buzz of another Facebook or Instagram comment, you can use the time to focus on your health and fitness goals.

by Steven Auger

We can all benefit from living in the moment, of course. But did you know that learning how to be present can actually improve your brain function and overall health? That's right. It's been proven that the brain benefits from focusing on one activity at a time, explains HealthDay reporter Maura Hohman.

Being present can not only increase your focus, it can also relieve stress! So why not use your time at the gym — time already dedicated to bettering yourself — to reconnect with the world around you?

Here are several ideas around how to be present and de-stress while exercising, so you can clear your head and focus on your workout.

Turn Off Your Notifications

If you post your gym accomplishments on social media, that's great! But you might want to consider turning off social media notifications when you're exercising in the gym. Instead of being distracted by the buzz of another Facebook or Instagram comment, focus on your health and fitness goals.

Using your phone to listen to some motivating music or track your workout progress is beneficial to your exercise routine — but commenting on a friend's status update won't help increase your treadmill distance!

Take Workout Notes

Lots of people like to write down the details of their daily workout. If you want to take a few notes about your sweat session, try carrying a small notebook (and a pen or pencil) with you as you move between benches and machines. Prefer a digital option? There are plenty of apps to choose from to track your progress.

Write what you're thinking and how you're feeling at that very moment — tired, exhilarated or anything in between. Recording your stream of consciousness can help you recognize feelings you've never noticed before, all while keeping track of your progress in the gym.

Focus on Your Breath

Breathing is an important part of any workout routine since it provides your muscles with the oxygen they need to keep going. However, it can also benefit you in other ways.

"Follow your breath," notes Hohman. "It's a reminder that you're alive." While you're exercising, listen to your breath as you breathe in and out. Doing so not only forces you to live in the moment, but it helps return your focus to your physical body.

Activate Automated Text Responses

Similar to turning off notifications, set up your phone so that it sends an automated response to anyone who texts you while you're working out. A simple message that alerts others that you'll get back to them later will save you time and keep you present. Other than a true emergency, nothing should get in the way of your workout when you're at the gym.

Talk to Fellow Gym-Goers

This one can be a little tricky, as some folks don't want to be disturbed while working out. However, you can usually tell who's up for chit-chatting a bit.

There's nothing wrong with making gym friends and building your own gym community, so don't be afraid to break the ice! Immersing yourself in your environment and engaging with those around you will help you stay connected to the moment.

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