Mindfulness and Fitness

mindful walkingThis is a link to a brief audio program from the creator of the Mindfulness Summit about the biggest obstacle to mindfulness. 

Over the past 30 years that I have been teaching about exercise and fitness, I have seen a growing trend.  This trend is, from what I can tell, one of the biggest barriers to exercise motivation.  It seems to be getting worse, not better.

The trend?  Never enough.  The push harder, be stronger, go faster, be better, do more approach to fitness keeps us in the never enough trap.  And in that state of mind with exercise (or anything), contentment, happiness and thus health and well-being are constantly out of our reach.

Research on the mind/body connection is now way too strong to ignore that fact and longer.  Being fit but chronically stressed counteract each other. Fitness cannot work its magic on health if one is in a constant stress response.   If the mind is never content, if negative stress is the state most of the time, health is effected.  So exercising to improve health needs to now consider the state of mind as well as the state of the body.

Combining mindfulness with exercise is an antidote for the “never enough” trend while boosting the health and well-being benefits.

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to what is happening with an attitude of kindness, openness and curiosity, in the present moment.  Mindfulness means “to see clearly”.   It is not about being happy and content all the time, it is certainly not about stopping thoughts – it is about simply being in a mindset that allow us to recognize what is happening, so we can make an informed choice toward contentment.

In fitness and weight loss, we can get so focused on future results, on reaching the next level or taking off the next five pounds, that we miss what is happening right now.  And when we do, we miss contentment.

Many patients would say,  but I do not feel content at my current weight! As you will hear in this audio, the present is the only place to find contentment.  If we can’t practice it now, in the future there will be some other reason not to be content. The next goal, the next event, will keep contentment just out of reach.  Practice contentment now.  It is just a practice, and practice makes this skill stronger.

If you have not experienced mindfulness yet, it is difficult to understand with just words and descriptions.  Look into options in your area.  We are so fortunate to have our Center for Mindfulness right here in central Massachusetts.  They even offer online options for learning mindfulness.

The great news is that exercise, when designed to be, is a tool for mindfulness.   Mindfulness is paying attention with curiosity and kindness.  Movement is an opportunity to focus on the body, taking care of it, listening to it.  Movement is an antidote for the changes that stress cause in the body.  Stress prepares the body for movement. When we are in a stress response but not moving, those changes can cause damage.

Exercise and movement can be a pathway to contentment – right here, right now, when we practice mindfulness with movement.

Pause when taking a walk with a friend and notice what is good about that moment.  Pause after exercise and really savor the contentment you feel from movement.  Put on music and dance – and enjoy simply moving to music.  Move in a way that you enjoy, and really enjoy it, and you are more likely to find health and well-being in mind and body.

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

 

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

 

 

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1 Comment

by | June 6, 2016 · 4:06 pm

One response to “Mindfulness and Fitness

  1. Pingback: One Thing I have Never Heard a Patient Say… | Keep Moving Weekly

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