Mental rehearsal is the one thing professional athletes do almost universally to boost their physical performance. Far from mere visualization, these athletes envision and rehearse a scenario where they are actually competing, envisioning how each minute will unfold in detail.
How does a mental rehearsal affect your real world performance? According to Lynne McTaggart, author of The Intention Experiment, “The brain cannot distinguish between the thought of an action and the action itself. Both produce identical results in the body.”
While you might not be going for the gold at the next Olympic games, you probably wouldn’t mind a fitter physique and improved health. Of course, you’re welcome to practice rehearsing for the gym before heading out the door, but, to reap the rewards without such a lengthy time investment, simply be mindful during your workout.
Though it certainly isn’t the best way to interact with the world around us, we all know that buzzing from task to task on autopilot will get us from Point A to Point B. But, did you realize that completing any task with attention the task itself (aka. being mindful) increases the neuro-plasticity of the brain? In other words, you can make permanent, positive changes in your wiring simply by increasing self-awareness during your daily activities.
Mindfulness exercises such as diaphragmatic breathing outlined by the Cleveland Clinic or mindful awareness exercises have several mind-body benefits such as increasing oxygen efficiency, improving self-awareness, and boosting positivity and optimism.
Not only can mindfulness actually reprogram the way you think, feel, and act, you’ll also reap the more obvious benefits of exercise such as increased energy levels, a boost in your metabolism, and an improvement in your sleep.
Mindfulness can be practiced in any activity, but to supercharge your workout, incorporate mindfulness into any fitness routine. Your mind and body are deeply intertwined, so, if you’re mindlessly going through your workout, you’re not reaping the full benefits.
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What does it look like to incorporate mindfulness into a workout? Exist in the present moment, and maintain your focus at all times. No matter the workout, there are plenty of opportunities to practice mindfulness while feeling the burn./p>
Clinical studies consistently show that putting your mind into your workout yields amazing results; mindful exercise produces increased levels of cortisol and melatonin production (think: better sleep, more calories burned, and a noticeable happiness boost).
What will you lose by being mindful during your workout? Potentially, you’ll let go of some serious health risks; you’ll lose (or, at least, decrease) your stress, lower your blood pressure, and reduce any inflammation in the body. That’s not all, people who exercise also have a lower risk for cardiovascular disease! While all of these benefits exist for exercise alone, research shows that mindfulness in movement exponentially increases these results.