Mindfulness: The Key To Sticking With Your Workout [Study]

Mindfulness has become a go-to buzzword lately. Typically linked to yoga and meditation, mindfulness is traditionally the practice of being in the moment. Essentially the opposite of multi-tasking, it advocates for the full immersion of oneself into a given task, which allows one to experience an activity at a deeper and more fulfilling level. In that, a study was recently published indicating that the use of mindfulness during exercise led to more consistent physical activity.

The feeling of satisfaction has long been identified as a motivator, thus causing some to maintain their workout routines. However, not everyone feels that same sense of satisfaction through exercise. Scientists at Utrecht University in the Netherlands decided to research the connection between satisfaction and consistent exercise through the lens of mindfulness.

Per the New York Times, the Dutch researchers recruited approximately 400 adults who self-identified as physically active. They then completed a questionnaire about their exercise habits, feelings during exercise, and their mindfulness, both in general and throughout an exercise session.

The study discovered that there was, in fact, a connection between practicing mindfulness and the sustainment of exercise routines. However, the connection was stronger in those that had not fully solidified the habit of exercise, which is good news for beginners.

“Mindfulness was related to physical activity only when one’s habit was weak. The relation of mindfulness with satisfaction was stronger for weak compared to strong habit. Understanding the relationship between mindfulness and satisfaction can contribute to the development of interventions to sustain physical activity.”

As the study indicated, practicing mindfulness is especially useful for those who have initially commenced their fitness journey. As is widely experienced, physical exercise can include aches and pains. Nonetheless, as the study demonstrated, the practice of mindfulness could allow one to become more cognizant of such discomfort.

However, as Kalliopi-Eleni Tsafou, a Marie Curie Research Fellow at Utrecht University who led the study, told the New York Times that the mindfulness process will lead to greater satisfaction while exercising.

“The message is that mindfulness may amplify satisfaction, because one is satisfied when positive experiences with physical activity become prominent… For those experiences to be noticed… one must become aware of them. We would argue that this can be achieved by being mindful.”

Tsafou further stated that by “observing all aspects that comprise” the training, this would allow one to fully immerse herself into that moment and lead to a more satisfying workout and the motivation to continue on the path of physical exercise.

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