mind body exercises

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Mind Body Exercises

By Gloria Keeling

Whether you're strength training in the gym or taking a brisk walk in your neighborhood, your workouts can benefit from some simple mind-body techniques. A lot of people think mind-body exercise is something mysterious and complicated. But "mind-body" simply means your mind and body are working together, thinking about and doing the same thing at the same time. Try the following techniques to add quality to your workouts.

Mindful Strength Training
1. From the moment you walk into the gym until the moment you walk out, maintain an attitude of confidenceÑeven if you don't always feel confident! Demonstrate your confidence with good posture. As you pass mirrors, notice how you carry yourself with pride. Pay attention to these thinks, not to your perceived physical flaws.

2. Always warm up. Use this time not only to prepare your body for the upcoming workout but to prepare your mind. Let go of all distracting thoughts. Inhale deeply and as you exhale, imagine you are breathing out all the day's tensions. Feel your breath and your body working as one unit.

3. Know your goals and keep them in mind while you work out. Practice clear, concise, doable affirmations, such as, "My biceps are getting stronger." Repeat these affirmations to yourself as you watch and feel the training muscle. 4. As you inhale, imagine you are brining in energy. Always exhale deeply on the exertion, and picture yourself breathing out your fatigue.

5. Constantly use the mirrors to check your form. Perfect form is essential to good training, even if it means you do fewer reps or lift lighter weights. As you see your perfect form, practice feeling that in your body.

6. If you are with your trainer or a workout partner, ask him or her to lightly touch the working muscle to enhance your kinesthetic awareness. Ask your trainer to point out where the muscle to the joint, and feel the muscle actually moving the joint.

7. If you are lifting heavy weights, stretch briefly at the end of each set, and always stretch thoroughly at the end of the workout. Feel and see the muscle elongating as you hold the stretch and breathe deeply. As you exhale, release into the stretch and thank yourself for your good work. Allow your entire being to relax.

Mindful Walking
1. Begin your walk by concentrating on your breathing. Breathe deeply from your diaphragm. Feel your rib cage expanding and contracting with each breath. After a few deep breaths, begin to count how many steps you take on each inhalation and exhalation.

2. Try not to think about what you are going to cook for dinner or your last conversation with your best friend. Just think about how your body is feeling as it moves.

3. Feel your feet as they strike the ground: heel, ball, toe. Stay with the rhythm of heel, ball, toe and imagine yourself striding with confidence.

4. Bring your awareness up past your feet to your legs and hip joints. Feel how they move as you stride. Then notice your arms swinging freely from your shoulders in counterpoint to your legs. Picture yourself moving through life with perfect rhythm and flow.

5. Focus on your center, just below your navel. Imagine that you feel all your movements originating there. Feel your entire being as a symphony of movement.

6. Expand your awareness to include everything around you. Feel your- self and your environment merging. Try to notice every rock, tree, cloud, breath, itch, car, dog, breeze, smell, etc. Remember to include yourself in the picture.

7. Add a verbal affirmation you can repeat silently to yourself, such as, "I feel good today."

Most of the strategies employed for mindful walking can be adapted for use when exercising on a treadmill or other cardiovascular machine.

Mindful Living
Sometime during your day, be sure to take time out for stillness. Rest is one of the body's most important needs, and yet we often ignore it completely. Find five minutes (20 is even better) to be absolutely still. You can use this time to meditate, pray or practice visualization. Taking time to step away from your busy life helps you renew your spirit and recharge your energy.

- Bio: Chad Tackett has degrees in Exercise and Heath Science and Nutrition, is a Certified Personal Trainer, and is a regular guest lecturer to both professional and lay audiences on the principles of effective exercise and good nutrition.

last update: February 2009

This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this material to diagnose or treat a health condition or disease without consulting with your healthcare provider.
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