mindful movement

MOVE

The mindful workout for mind and body health

  • People who practice mindful movement feel better, are happier and have more energy in their lives.

If your workout is just one more thing to check off your “to-do” list, then you may not be reaping all the health benefits it offers. Mindful movement, where you are intentionally in the present and aware of every move you make, exercises both your body and mind at the same time. You not only get the physical benefits of exercising, but you also can:

  • Reduce stress, anxiety and depression and boost mood
  • Improve your overall well-being
  • Increase the efficiency of your workout
  • Increase your awareness of your body and its signals
  • Improve cognition, including concentration, problem solving and memory
  • Improve your sleep

These benefits don’t stop with the workout. Over time, as you get better at mindfulness during your workout, it becomes easier to incorporate mindfulness throughout your day. Studies have shown that people who practice mindful movement feel better, are happier and have more energy as they go about their activities of daily living. Some report being able to handle life’s challenges more calmly.

Yoga and Tai Chi

Some activities, such as yoga or tai chi ch’uan, have mindfulness incorporated into them. Yoga developed thousands of years ago as an exercise in movement to achieve enlightenment. There was no distinction between mind and body, and mediation was always a part of the practice.

Tai chi is a Chinese movement practice based on an ancient martial art that combines breathing and visualization with movement to work the entire body. Some researchers have reported that tai chi promotes longevity and counters symptoms of arthritis, chronic pulmonary disease, fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses.

Become more mindful

If you already have a favorite routine or two, try incorporating mindfulness the next time you work out. If you are a weight lifter, for example, don’t think, “ten more reps and I’m done.” Instead stay in the present by focusing on your breathing as you lift and lower the weight. Concentrate on the feeling in the muscle as it flexes and then extends. As you practice this mindful way of lifting weights, you will become more relaxed. Think of it as learning to drive a car without the parking brake on. The car moves more smoothly and easily. You, too will move more smoothly and easily, and your body will be more efficient as you reduce the base level tension that has developed over time.

Mindful movement is for everyone

Anyone can learn to work out more mindfully, regardless of age and ability. Mindful activities, such as yoga and tai chi, can be adapted to your skill set. Even those who may not be able to move, such as someone who is bedridden, can get the benefits of mindfulness by doing the work through the mind. Research has shown that even imagining movements can have both physical and mental benefits.

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