Sunday, January 13, 2013

Mindful Exercising this Winter

Whether you are kicking off your year with healthy and active resolutions or you decided to take things slow, exercising in a proper conscious way will help you make the most out of your workouts! When it comes to me, I decided to exercise more regularly this new year, and I'm off to a good start! I've walked, ran, hiked, bicycled, and lifted weights in just 2 weeks from new year's day!

Mindful exercising is when you are fully aware of what you are doing while exercising, without overthinking, with no judgement, no day dreaming, no random thoughts, no life distractions – it’s nothing but you, your body, your breath, your muscles and your exercise! It's actually hard to dominate at first, especially that I am used to think my life through when I am exercising. This is fine sometimes, especially if you’re being positive and motivated; nevertheless, focusing on yourself and your exercise is much more important to fully benefit! In fact, a study conducted by a Harvard psychologist was able to improve blood pressure & decrease body weight, body and waist circumference in women just by making them more aware of their regular physical activity! That's why mindful exercising is my primary goal this year.

Hiking in Marj Besri - Chouf, Lebanon
Shot by Ghandi Tarabay
To start with, the next time you hit the gym, hike, go for a jog or swim – learn the right techniques of the exercise you are engaged in. Wearing the right clothes, using the right gear and learning proper muscle techniques & moves are much needed to make the best out of your exercise.

In addition, listen to your body - whether in heart rate, joints, tension points, muscles stress, feeling of dizziness and thirst. For one, this will help you avoid overstressing your muscles and help you avoid injuries. It will also aid you in becoming more vigilant & aware of your surroundings, in improving your performance, in perfecting your reactions and thus making you a better athlete.

While exercising, focus on your breathing techniques as well. This seems the hardest for me so far! Feel your breath move in and out of your body. Pay attention to your nostrils as air passes in and out. Notice the way your abdomen expands and collapses. Focus on the sound of your exhalation and inhalation. When your mind wanders, unconscious breathing will follow your heart beats, leading to shorter and faster inhalations and exhalations - my obstacle :p. Redirect your attention to your breath and expand breathing. This will allow proper flow of oxygen in and carbon dioxide out. This will also help in pumping blood more efficiently throughout your body.

Focus on the here and now of exercising - what your body is doing and how your brain is reacting. With time, mindfulness in your exercise will become effortless. Attend your full range of sensations into what you are doing! Muscles, heart beat, breath, sweat! This will distract you from everyday challenges (which you have plenty of time to go back to!) while alleviating your stress and anxiety. 

I'll be looking more into winter exercises now that it snowed all over the place so I'm guessing my upcoming post will be icy!

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