How Mindfulness Can Boost Your Exercise Habits

Mindfulness teacher Cara Bradley offers practical advice on how mindfulness can help with adding movement to your day.

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Q.

I’m struggling with adding movement to my day. How can I use my mindfulness practice to make exercise more intuitive?

A.

Set a clear intention before you begin. An intention is like a compass: It directs your mind, keeping you motivated and focused. Here are a few examples of powerful intentions:

I am going for a run to clear my head.

During this yoga class I will be kind to myself.

On my walk, I’ll let these prickly thoughts fly.

I’m going swimming to increase my strength.

I won’t judge myself during this weight training class.

Then, while you’re moving, start paying attention to the coolness, heat, tingling, or throbbing you feel. Doing so will help you tune in to when you need to modify, hold steady, or pick up the intensity. During your next workout, notice your muscles burning toward the end of your walk or run, the sense of expansion during a deep yoga pose, or the fire in your legs during those last few squats. Your body feels different from day to day. Some days you may rock and roll, other days you may only crawl. Acknowledge your highs and lows. If you can, commit to moving a little bit. This is how you build consistency and momentum. Negative self-talk will just drain your energy. Start where you are. Let go of what you can’t do. Embrace what you can.

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