A woman exercising mindfully

Ways to Practice Mindfulness when Exercising

Mindful stress reduction strategies and exercise 

When stress becomes overwhelming and you become stuck in a constant loop of negative thinking, it can seem nearly impossible to minimize these persistent feelings. Fortunately, there are helpful methods to reduce stress, many of which involve practicing mindfulness when exercising. Mindfulness-based stress reduction can be easily utilized when doing a myriad of exercises and will help you focus on the here and now instead of dwelling on what has already happened. Mindfulness and fitness can go hand-in-hand together and will enable you to shift your focus elsewhere to help decrease high amounts of stress.

Here are ways you can practice mindfulness when exercising and the number of benefits it can provide. 

Three senses

When you begin to exercise in any function and feel stress rising so much that it is taking you out of the current moment, you can use your three senses–sight, sound and touch. Ask yourself, after a few deep breaths, what are three things you can currently hear, see and feel? Incorporating this mindful technique while you exercise can level your stress and remove you from a place of rising anxiety. 


Before any activity where mindful focus is required and necessary, like any exercise, you should take a few minutes to practice and regulate your breathing. This is particularly important if you find your stress levels increasing before exercising because taking slow, deep breaths can effectively remove yourself from your own frantic thoughts. Though it isn’t just simple breathing that is necessary to help induce relaxation and calm, you have to breathe deep enough to engage with your diaphragm. A good way to practice stress-reducing breathing is to lay on your back and place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest, where you will then begin to inhale for four seconds and exhale for six seconds. 

Reminding yourself why you’re exercising 

After you finish your breathing exercises and begin your workout, it’s important not to rush your routine. While you may have more tempting plans ahead, you should focus on what you’re doing when you’re exercising and why you do it. Continuously center your mind on the present instead of the past or future by reminding yourself why you’re exercising right now and how it is currently helping you in all regards. 

Focus on your body

In the midst of any workout, your mind is bound to wander. To keep yourself engaged with what you’re doing, focus on the movements of your body. What are your triceps doing as you do pushups? How do they feel? How do your legs feel when you jogging, and how are they moving? Ask yourself these questions regarding the movements of your own body to incorporate mindfulness-based stress reduction into your exercises. This will help connect you with your body and will give you a healthy chance to check in with yourself as well. 

Set your intentions

When you begin your exercise, set your daily intentions and say them aloud to yourself. This can reduce any anticipated stressors of the day as it will force you to focus on that one intention at the moment. Setting intentions for your workout can help you maintain your focus on your exercises instead of dwelling on something else. 

Cool down

Once you complete your workout, always take a few moments to cool down. Stretch the muscles you just exercised and inhale and exhale slowly for a bit to regulate your breathing and keep yourself in a relaxed state as you set off for whatever you have planned next. 

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