It occurred to me yesterday while I was out biking in the beautiful fall air that I had discussed the connection between mind, body, and stress relief, but I did not elaborate on its importance for enhancing one’s weight training activities.
If you Google “mind-body exercise techniques”, you’ll end up with a lot of articles on stress relief and practices such as yoga. However, weight training also requires concentration, imagery, and visualization for good form and even better results (Clinebell, April 9th, 2012). Consequently, many body builders emphasize the mind-body connection during weight training – i.e. thinking consciously and purposefully about what you’re doing as opposed to just throwing the weights around and grunting (Rivera, About.com).
I would also add that focusing on your body during an exercise routine can bring about the same meditative results as if you were doing things like yoga, deep-breathing meditations, etc. I find that lifting a weight and breathing in, releasing the weight and breathing out (as well as really thinking about the contraction of the muscle throughout the exercise) can help me to not only focus on the task at hand, but clear my mind of stress and lingering worry. The latter statement is the primary contributor to my long-term love affair with weights and strength training. I like not only feeling strong and capable, but focused and stress-free.
Researchers have also suggested that exercise can contribute to neurogenesis, or new brain cell development, which suggests that not only is a mind-body connection helpful for your physical stature, but the very act of exercise can enhance your brain functioning (DiscoveryHealth.com).
Unfortunately, going to a gym and working out on a treadmill or weight machine with a television blaring in your face, people chattering at your elbow, and/or music in your ears is not conducive to a meditative or thoughtful workout routine. Try for a change working out in the fresh fall air, doing your usual routine at home when it’s quiet, or taking a long run at noon when there are fewer people around (Trail, August 16th, 2013).