We all know that exercise is vital for good physical health, but we shouldn’t underestimate its powerful effect on our mental health and mindfulness.

Whether its riding a bike, dancing, sweating it out on the treadmill, or some gardening these can all be a mindfulness practice.

Whatever the physical exercise it will help you to move and breathe to synchronize your body and mind.  It’s more than just the calorie burn or muscle building that is achieved, it can shift you from feeling distracted and overwhelmed to capable and strong.  

Have a clear aim

As you’re slipping into your lycra, lacing up your trainers or popping your yoga DVD into the machine, ensure that you are ready to bring purpose to your planned activity. Envision what you want to achieve.  How will you feel, how will you react to your environment, and what senses do you want to be aware of.  

Get warm

We all know the importance of warming up before exercise.  Consider this five minute warm-up as not only vital for the body but also for the mind. Stick to simple moves such as set stretches and star jumps.  Concentrate on matching your movements to your breathing and move rhythmically to allow your heart rate to synchronize with your movements.

Rhythm and challenge

Now it’s time to pick up the intensity of your chosen exercise. Continue to focus on your breath and movement and concentrate on matching them.  If you find this difficult, lower the intensity of movement, whilst you focus on the breath and then slowly increase.  Eventually, this will become second nature.

Depending on your chosen exercise try to challenge yourself during each session.  This may be running faster or lifting heavier weights.  Whilst it is great to push yourself make sure that you don’t push too hard and risk injury.  Focus on this feeling - does it make you feel more alert, more powerful?

Cool it down

The cooldown is just as important as the warmup so make sure that you do not miss this step.  How does this slowing of pace feel?  Notice the changes in your body and your breathing.  Become aware of your surroundings.

And rest…

Your workout is complete.  You have achieved great things for both your physical and mental wellbeing.  Spend some time sitting quietly and recognising how it makes you feel.  Reflect on your original intention, think about your senses, and don’t forget to rehydrate and refuel as necessary.  The chances are that you will now feel more alive from head to toe and ready to face the day.