Fitness

Add Mindfulness to Your Workout for Total Mind/Body Health

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More often than not, when we finish a great ride, we feel amazing both physically and mentally. We treat riding as our “therapy” time to help us work through the stress of whatever is going on in our lives, rather than leaving the stress behind us before we get to the barn. As important as being physically fit is to being a rider, being mentally fit is as equally important. Otherwise, our stress translates into our posture, our anxieties dictate how we ride, and we can’t focus on what’s going right now, in front of us. Luckily, this year has seen the creation of workouts that combine physical and mental work that help us achieve the perfect healthy body and healthy mind balance.

When we think of “mindful” workouts, no doubt yoga is the first thing that comes to mind. While yoga is great, and the ultimate low-impact mindful workout, we need to balance low-impact workouts with high-impact, high-intensity cardio to get into our best riding shape. One way to do this is to add a short meditation before and after a High-Intensity Impact Training exercise. Another way is to listen to a meditation made specifically for running. One instructor even created a workout for people with chronic pain that fuses cardio, balance, and focusing on breathing to create space for mindfulness.

Of course, you can also practice mindfulness just by working out and focusing on what you’re doing instead of what’s on television, what you’re doing after your workout, social media, or whatever other distractions that have you pulled in a million different directions. When we practice mindfulness, it can give us a boost to our immune system, improve our concentration, and reduce stress — everything that exercise is supposed to help with, if we let it. If we give ourselves the time to be in the present and focus on the task at hand.

Nicole is a writer for Heels Down Media. If she's not writing or editing, she's either running, doing yoga, or at the barn working on becoming a better, stronger dressage rider.

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