How to Be More Present While You Exercise
Learn how to be more present in your workouts so you can find calm, slow down, and start forming healthier habits.
February 3, 2022

Working out is often just another task in your hectic day.

Too many busy days can start to feel like too much. There’s no way to slow down, to relax, to be… present.

The senses fade, your mind races, and you’re everywhere and nowhere all at once.

But the truth is, your workout can be the perfect time to find some ‘hereness’ and ‘nowness’. With a few strategies, your exercise routine can help you slow down, reconnect with yourself and relax.

Practising presence during your workouts not only helps calm your racing mind, it also unlocks the ability to enjoy your workouts as more than just a task on a list.

Here’s how to be more present in your workouts so you can find calm, slow down, and start forming healthier habits.

Why is being present important?

Life is fast. And it’s only getting faster. 

Days are filled with errands, tasks, notifications, inboxes, deadlines and commutes.

It’s too easy to project too far into the future and lose the present moment. It’s exhausting.

Practising mindfulness and trying to be more present slows the mind down. A quiet mind helps you reconnect with your body, your senses, and your emotions.

If being present is part of your movement practice, you can start enjoying your fitness more and form healthy habits you’ll love to have. 

Here’s 5 simple ways to be more present while you exercise:

1. Be where you are

Take a minute before you start your fitness practice to focus on mindfulness and the moment. 

Look around you and focus on other objects you might see to remind yourself that you’re there with them.

“That’s a chair, that’s a plant, that’s the sound of my breath, this is me, I am here right now.”

A simple focusing exercise like this will help you ground yourself in the present moment and focus your mind on your body and surroundings rather than drifting thoughts.

If you feel your normal, fast-paced thoughts coming back as you work out, check in with your senses anytime to find the moment you’re in.

2. For fitness time, make it unplugged time

You don’t need reminding that most of your life is mediated through a device, an algorithm, or an interface.

Together, they can make your day-to-day feel like it’s all somewhere else, from some other time. 

So unplug. Make your fitness deviceless. Let your workouts and movement breaks be small vacations from all your constantly-connected busy work.

Take your attention back and focus on the finer feelings of fitness, like connection with your body, space, and the moment you’re presently in.

Remember, PlayFitt automatically counts squats, steps and push-ups for this exact reason, so you can keep your phone in your pocket without having to be “on your phone” the whole time.

Focus on your fitness and let your phone take care of the counting.

3. Get into being out of your groove

If you’re able, take your fitness routine into new contexts whenever you can—especially outdoors.

The more novel your surroundings, the easier it is to notice new and different feelings, sights and sounds.These new experiences engage your senses to feel present and embodied as you move through your fitness routine.

Some simple activities you may not always do - like walking, jogging, or a yoga practice in the park - will help you be more mindful of your present surroundings and cure the workout boredom you might have from doing the same routine over, and over, and over…

4. Meditation, mindfulness and movement

We’ve written about the connection between exercise and meditation before, but it’s worth mentioning again that fitness and workouts can be meditative too. Especially if you’re looking to be more present and mindful during your day.

Adding lower impact exercises like walking to get your daily steps, or taking your movement breaks to the park, are great ways to add more meditative movements to your routine.

When you’re able to expand what exercises you keep in your practice, you’re giving yourself the ability to add more mindful movement moments to your day.

Focus on your breath and senses (especially sights and sounds) to amplify the meditative aspects of your exercise and stay in the moment.

5. Breath and body work

Fitness gives you rhythm. Use it to nurture a better awareness of the moment.

The cadence of your steps, the beat of your heart, and the repetition of your breath are just a few things you can focus on to stay in the moment.

Staying aware of your breath and body helps center you in your moment by enhancing your sense of physical self wherever you are, or whatever you’re doing.

Nothing is more grounding than yourself in space. Use your connection with your body and breath to stay more present as you practice your fitness routine.

Give yourself the gift of presence

Fitness doesn’t have to be a chore. Fitness can become the much-needed break you take from busywork.

Focusing on being present and letting your movement time be mindful time will help you slow your thoughts, re-connect and find comfort in the moment.

The more mindful your movements are, the more you’ll enjoy coming back to them again and again, making mindfulness and healthy your favorite habits.

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