While yoga and Pilates are often what conjures up the term “mind and body exercise”, the truth is that all exercise is mind and body oriented. Without a conscious connection between the mind and body when exercising, the effectiveness and perhaps the safety of the exercise program may be negatively impacted.
We utilize a cue in our indoor group cycling program that “wherever the mind goes, the body follows”, and this applies to all exercise programs. Being and remaining in the moment may enhance the exercise outcomes during each workout which then creates success throughout the year. This week we will highlight five strategies to apply during your workouts. You may use one continuously through a workout or all five at some point as you progress through the program. These strategies are designed to keep you “in the moment” leading to outstanding results. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
Strategy #1 Clear your mind prior to beginning your warm-up protocols allowing a release of anxieties and stressors from the day. Put away all devices just for this hour and permit yourself to concentrate on your mind and body opening the door to the unlimited possibilities that exertion of the correct frequency, intensity, type and time may provide.
Strategy #2 Utilize mantras throughout your workout. We utilize mantras continuously throughout our programs to keep the mind and body on the same page. Mantras may be repeated to keep you on track, or to motivate you during an extremely challenging segment of the program. Examples for keeping on track might be, “I am strong and tough”, “I can. I will. I am. I did.”, “I am awesome”, “I am a winner”, “I am 100% in control”. And, to repeat during high intensity intervals, “I am leaving nothing behind”, “I don’t stop when I am tired, I stop when I am done”, “I am embracing the suffering”, “I am unstoppable”, and, “I am not compromising”. The key to choosing mantras is that you will “hear” this mantra every time you perform that specific drill or skill and then that will be associated with superior performance.
Strategy #3 Visualization works! The power of visualization is critical regardless if you are new to exercise or an elite athlete. You want to choose images that feature you succeeding. When climbing on your bike or running up the hill, visualize the top of the hill and keep that laser focus on the crest. Choose a landmark when running or cycling and feel yourself reaching that landmark. Good examples are stoplights that you want to get through before the light turns red. Think of what your “carrot” might be and keep that image accessible throughout the program. We refer to this as a “head edge”.
Strategy #4 Choose music that enhances rather than distracts. If you are listening to music during your workout, which may be very motivating, make choices that will do just that—motivate.
Strategy #5 Master your breathing techniques. Breathing is such a critical component of exercise. Every cell in your body requires oxygen to function and your ability to effectively exhale the carbon dioxide and replenish the oxygen may dictate the success of the program.