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7 Mindful Ways to Celebrate National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

By Katie Jeffrey

woman practicing karateCelebrate National Physical Fitness and Sports Month in May by participating in physical activities that you love and that make you feel alive. Here are a few suggestions to help do what you love and love what you do.

1. Be mindful.

Mindfulness enables you to be fully aware of the present moment and listen to your body so that you can find a healthy balance between training, competition (if applicable), rest, and living your life to the fullest. When you work out mindfully, you pay close attention to your body’s responses—including your physical signs of hunger and fullness, energy levels, stamina, strength, and power.

2. Discover the intrinsic benefits of moving your body.

Most people who develop a lifelong pattern of enjoyable physical activity have discovered the intrinsic benefits such as the joy of movement, the love of their game, the social aspects of sport, and/or the way they feel during and after activity. These individuals will continue their sport or discover other ways to engage in physical activity throughout their lifetime because they love what they do and do what they love.

3. Choose activities that you love.

What types of exercise do you enjoy? Do you prefer to participate in a team sport, train individually, and/or workout with a partner or a trainer? Do you like strength training, cardiorespiratory activities, or flexibility training? What are you particularly good at? What sport or skills are you motivated to learn or improve? Do you like to do a variety of activities to build your fitness, sustain your enjoyment, and reduce your risk of injury and monotony? Make a list of all the ways you enjoy moving your body. For instance, you may enjoy gardening, sailing, hiking, mountain biking, yoga and dancing. The options are endless. Do those that fill you with joy.

4. Experiment to find the best time to be physically active.

Do you like to workout in the morning to get your day off to a great start? Or, do you enjoy being active in the evening because exercise helps you unwind and relax from the day’s activities? Many factors will affect your decisions about timing of activity including your school, work, family and social schedule; your training program; the weather; and availability of your trainer, training partners, or training facility. Experiment to find the time that works best for you.

5. Get in the zone.

You’ve heard athletes describe being “in the zone” or “in a state of flow” when they’re engaged in their favorite sport or activity. They are referring to a state of complete absorption and intense concentration during which time seems to fall away. They are focused and brain activity is highly efficient. They are no longer self-conscious so the activity is intrinsically rewarding. Activities that induce this state of flow for you are incredibly energizing so they’re a powerful way to recharge your physical and emotional batteries. Are there any physical activities that produce this feeling for you? Experiment with running, cycling, tai chi, surfing, rock climbing, or swimming—the possibilities are endless. If you haven’t found the right activity for you yet, keep looking! It’s out there!

6. Determine how long and how often to exercise.

How many times a week do you exercise? How long do you exercise during each session? Besides formal exercise, are you active throughout your day, like taking the stairs instead of the escalator? Finding a healthy balance between your physical training and periods of rest will enable you to optimally recover and care for yourself. Make it a priority to listen to your body by taking time off or reducing your physical activity when necessary due to illness, injury, fatigue, or boredom.

7. Make a healthy energy investment in moving your body.

Physical activity requires a significant investment of energy. What is your return on investment? Improved fitness, performance, skill, speed, strength, endurance, agility, hand-eye coordination, lean muscle mass? Are you calmer, less stressed, or healthier? Do you sleep better? Do you have enough energy left for other activities, interests, and relationships?

When you’re in tune with your body you’ll find a healthy balance between fitness, rest, and living your life. You’ll choose activities that are both enjoyable and challenging and naturally seek balance, variety, and moderation in your physical activity. National Physical Fitness and Sports Month will become Personal Physical Fitness and Sports Life!

From Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program for Sports and Life by Michelle May, M.D. and Katie Jeffrey, MS, RDN, CSSD.

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About the author

Katie Jeffrey, MS, RDN, CSSD Katie Jeffrey, MS, RDN, CSSD, is an athlete who is passionate about mindful eating and living. She is a Licensed and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and co-author of the upcoming book, “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Athletes: A Mindful Eating Program for Sports and Life” with Michelle May, M.D. Katie is also a speaker and a licensed Facilitator of the Am I Hungry? ® mindful eating program. She is the founder and CEO of FitNutrition, LLC which provides individual nutrition counseling, sports performance nutrition counseling, nutrition consulting and dynamic scientifically-based nutrition presentations on various topics for all age groups. Katie works with individuals to optimize their health by examining all aspects of their life as it relates to food and eating behaviors. As a specialist in sports nutrition, she is passionate about working with athletes to enhance their athletic performance.

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