During a long workout or on days when you’re just not inspired you may be tempted to read, watch television or talk while you workout. Yes this may keep your mind busy and trick you into thinking your workout went by faster than normal, but what you may not know is that you are actually causing more harm than good.

The mind-body connection is always strong, but never as strong as it is during exercise. Exercising with your mind detached from the activity makes just as much sense as eating bag of potato chips then going for a walk. Why is it such a bad idea? Several reasons:

  1. If your mind is focused on the television, book, phone, or friend on the treadmill next to you, your body is not in proper form. Improper form leads to injury.
  2. Mindful exercise is more effective than when you “zone out.” According to a recent study published in the New York Times, participants who were mindful during physical activity had lower blood pressure and lost more weight than those who worked with distractions.
  3. If you’re distracted, then you’re not operating at maximum output. Half-ass effort yields half-ass results.

So how do you practice mindful exercise?

  1. Before you begin your workout take stock of your mental and emotional state. If you’re feeling

    Via Woman's Day

    blah, sad, or otherwise less than grand an attitude adjustment may be in order. Your attitude has a major impact on the effectiveness of your workout. This post from Mindful Muscle goes into greater detail about state of mind and its effects on workouts, but I doubt anyone would disagree that attitude is a big part of any endeavor, exercise or otherwise.

  2. Eliminate all unnecessary distractions. I find that listening to music helps me focus and block out everything, but for others it’s a distraction. You know best what makes your mind wander.
  3. As you work out focus on the muscles you are targeting. If you’re doing a triceps press, focus on isolating the muscles as you contract. Concentrate on your breathing, making sure to exhale on exertion. You will notice that you feel the contraction deeper in the muscle and that you will feel a higher level of exertion than when you workout with distractions.

Try it for a week while also tracking how you feel before, during, and after your workouts. Trust me, you’ll notice a major difference.