Movement is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. It helps us stay strong and flexible, and it can also be a great way to relieve stress. But not all movement is created equal. In this article, we’ll explore what mindful movement is and how you can add it to your health and wellness routine.
What Is Mindful Movement?
Mindful movement is an approach to exercise that focuses on being present in the moment. It’s all about being aware of your body and its surroundings, as well as moving in a manner that is both safe and healthy for you. Mindful movement activities range from attending a yoga class to taking a stroll in nature. The most crucial element is focusing on your body and breath while you move rather than letting your thoughts wander.
Healthy Mind Healthy Body: 3 Benefits of Mindful Movement
Here are three benefits of mindful movement:
1. Reduces Stress
The fight-or-flight response is activated when you’re stressed. In this state, your heart rate and blood pressure rise, and your muscles tense up.[*] Mindful movement can help you relax and reduce stress. A study of 25 patients with multiple sclerosis found that mindful movement helped reduce stress and pain and improve relationships, walking, and sleep quality.[*]
2. Improves Sleep and Relaxation
Some research suggests that practicing mindful movement before bed can help you fall asleep faster and have a more restful sleep.[*] Practice mindful movement before bed to wind down from your day. You may be surprised at how much better you sleep!
3. Improves Quality of Life
A mindful approach to movement may not only improve your health but may also enhance your quality of life. According to one study, breast cancer survivors who completed a Mindful Movement Program had a better quality of life.[*]
Why Is Mindful Movement Important?
Mindful movement is beneficial because it helps you stay healthy physically and mentally. When you pay attention to your movement you are more likely to engage in physical activity and ensure that you use good form rather than overdoing it.[*] This can help you avoid injuries and reduce stress and anxiety. When you focus on your body and breath, it’s easier to put other worries aside, resulting in a calmer mind.
How Can You Incorporate Mindful Movement Into Your Life?
There are several methods to incorporate mindful movement into your daily routine. Here are a few strategies to get you started:
1. Walking Outside
Walking outdoors is a great way to get some fresh air and move your body. Pay attention to the sights, sounds, and smells around you as you walk. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to the present moment.
Yoga is a popular form of mindful movement that you can do at home or in a studio. There are many different types of yoga, so find one that’s right for you. Try to focus on your breath and body as you move through the poses.
Qigong is a Chinese martial art that involves moving the body in specific ways while focusing on the breath.[*] Qigong improves balance, flexibility, and strength. Qigong classes and videos are available online if you’d like to learn more about this practice.
4. Tai Chi
Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art that has been practiced for hundreds of years and offers many benefits.[*] Some Tai Chi styles are faster than others, yet they all emphasize the same idea: focused breathing as you move from one posture to the next. You may find Tai Chi courses online.
5. Mindful Swimming
If you enjoy relaxing in the water, you’ll love mindful swimming. This is a great way to get some cardio while also focusing on your breath and movement. Start slowly and focus on your technique. As you become more comfortable, you can increase your speed. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Start with a gentle breaststroke or sidestroke.
- Use smooth, even strokes.
- Pay attention to your breath and movement.
- Focus on the sensation of the water moving over your body.
6. Lifting Weights
One of the best ways to keep your mind and body healthy is by lifting weights.[*] Mindful weight lifting can help you concentrate on proper form, avoid injuries, and achieve your fitness goals. To get a greater result from your strength training, take it slow and concentrate on small isometric exercises. For instance, holding a bicep curl for five seconds and then slowly releasing it is more effective than quickly lifting and lowering the weight. You can also try other exercises such as tricep kickbacks, chest presses, squats, and shoulder shrugs.
Final Thoughts About Mindful Movement
Practicing mindful movement can help you live a healthier life. It can be a great way to reduce stress, enhance your mental health, and increase your physical activity level. By being more aware of your body and its movement, you can become more in tune with your own physical and emotional needs. In turn, this may help you to make better choices about your health and wellbeing.
Dawn Chambers, PT, DPT is a private practice physical therapist and wellness blogger. She is passionate about women’s health and wellness and a self-proclaimed “outdoorsy girly girl”. When she is not working, you can find her playing tennis, hiking, playing golf, and practicing self-care.