Exercise. Urgh. We all know it’s good for us, and most of us really don’t like it. It’s a bit like mindfulness, in a way. At first. We’re all beginning to gradually accept that mindfulness and meditation are good for us too, but that doesn’t stop most of us from trying to get out of doing it. Something I’ve noticed is that, while you’re exercising, it’s pretty easy to be mindful. Focusing on the breath and the body becomes a lot easier when you’re quickly losing your breath and your heartrate is going into overdrive.
Different types of exercise aid mindfulness in different ways. When you’re swimming, it becomes quite simple to notice the feeling of the water on your body, and notice the escalated pulse, and experience the smells and sounds of the pool. Playing football lets you focus on the green of the grass and the feeling of the wind in your hair as you run. Exercise, in its own way, is one of the best times at which you can be mindful. And combining exercise and mindfulness is a sure-fire way to get a huge dopamine boost and feel good about yourself.
Another advantage of exercise as a form of mindfulness is that it isn’t impossibly difficult to incorporate exercise into your everyday life, which means that mindfulness is incorporated into your everyday life by proxy. If you cycle to work or school every day, and you’re able to mindfully cycle and be aware of the feelings in your body and the road ahead of you, you’ve found a simple way to add mindfulness into your life every single day. I’ve written before a list of how to incorporate mindfulness into your life every day and why it’s so important, and exercise would make a fine addition to that list.
One thing I used to do was do my daily workout, and then have a meditation session directly afterwards. The reason that this came so easily to me was because, while exercising, I was already hyper aware of the experience and the present moment, and so meditation directly afterwards felt like a natural continuation of that. When you have just woken up or whatever and go directly into a meditation session, it can often feel like you’ve gone straight from one thing (sleep, work, etc.) and into a completely different thing. Meditation doesn’t feel like much else, but I do think that when you’re exercising you do get some of that same feeling that you get from meditation and mindfulness, especially if you’re making a conscious effort to exercise mindfully.
Exercising is fantastic. It makes you feel great, it makes you healthier, and it makes you look better. There is nothing bad I can say about adding exercise to your daily routine. But if you’re able to combine that exercise with mindfulness, either by exercising mindfully or by making a meditation session the thing you become used to doing after taking up your exercise, the benefits of exercise will be multiplied.