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3 Workouts That Involve Meditation

3 Workouts That Involve Meditation

Let’s face it, workouts are tough. We love the feeling afterwards, but struggle during the actual process. Our brain seems to always be looking for the finish line and therefore we become acutely aware of the strain being put on our bodies.

That feeling has caused me to have a love/hate relationship with exercise for many years. I dreaded having to workout and the mental and physical strain that came along with it, but I loved being healthy and the “high” I would get when it was over with. That was until my friend Anna taught me to change the way I thought about exercise. She helped me incorporate meditation in my workout.

I know, it sounds strange, but it has helped me to be conscious of my body while I’m exercising and truly enjoy my workout. Meditation can be applied to most workouts, but I’m only going to highlight the workouts that I have applied it to.

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Running

Growing up I was a pretty active kid. I participated in just about every sport, and naturally running was something that I did a lot of. I always viewed it as a type of punishment, for instance if the team performed poorly in a game we would be punished by having to run ladders. This framed my view of running as something that wasn’t supposed to be enjoyable. The notion of “runner’s high” was something that largely eluded me, but by changing the way I thought about running I was able to enjoy it.

To incorporate meditation into your running you need the brain to be present in the moment. This means being aware of what the body is feeling, but not needing to immediately address whatever pain it may be feeling and continuing on your run.

Secondly running incorporates rhythmic breathing patterns, be aware of this and try to breathe deep from the abdominal. Lastly, vary the locations of your run. This helps create the sense of a new and exciting experience.

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Swimming

Swimming, with the possible exception of yoga, could be the exercise that is most conducive to a meditative state. Everything from the color blue promoting a sense of calm and depth, to the way the ebb and flow of an ocean tide simulates deep, relaxed breathing. Water has always helped humans achieve a meditative state and it turns out that our favorite water based exercise does too.

If you think about it, swimming mimics many of qualities of basic meditation. Rhythmic and deep breathing helps put the mind at ease and enables it to be aware of the bodies muscle motions. Immersion in water helps the body naturally relax and the strokes used during swimming allow the skeletal muscles to loosen up, which allows the brain to be aware and present to the exercise at hand.

You may saying, yeah that sounds good, but the water makes me cold and therefore unable to relax. For those more cold blooded individuals, picking the right wetsuit will keep your body temperature up.

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Yoga

Clearly the most obvious choice for this list. Many of us think of yoga as a stretching class that is mainly practiced by women, but this misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. Yoga does involve a lot of stretching, but it’s also an incredibly good exercise. Like the other exercises, yoga, especially when done in a class, promotes a sense of awareness of the body and what it is feeling while your muscles work to hold your body in position.

Simultaneously the deep and rhythmic breathing involved allows your mind to focus on maintaining your pose and receive the full benefit of the workout. If you really want to take your meditation to the next level you can do your yoga in the pool. The buoyancy of the water makes it more comfortable and has less impact on your body.

Working out is never going to be completely painless. There is always going to be challenges involved with exercising, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a painful experience. I’ve certainly changed the way I look at working out. Being present and aware of your body while focusing on your breathing and taking a positive approach into your workout can help you achieve a meditative state while working out!

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Featured photo credit: Morguefile via morguefile.com

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Published on July 9, 2020

10 Easy At-Home Leg Toning Workouts for Women

10 Easy At-Home Leg Toning Workouts for Women

As you grow older, it becomes hard to balance and have stability in your joints if you’re not engaging in leg toning workouts. You start losing muscle mass, strength, and function over time. Furthermore, if you’re physically inactive, you’ll lose 3 to 5 percent of muscle mass each decade after age 30.

Thankfully, you can still score your strongest legs ever with the help of leg toning workouts. Strong legs help you support your body better and make you more attractive. Also, they are less susceptible to injuries.

The best part? You don’t need fancy and expensive gym equipment to fire up those leg muscles. You can do that right at home.

Ready to get strong? Here are the best at-home leg toning workout moves for women.

1. Bodyweight Squats

    The squat is often referred to as the king of all exercises. It’s an amazing way to tone your legs. Not only does it help you build lean muscle, but it also works your abs, butt, and hips. Also, if you’re suffering from back pain, it’s a great option as it doesn’t strain your back when done right. To do a squat:

    • Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes slightly turned out.
    • Bend at the knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
    • Pause for a moment and push yourself back to your original position.
    • Repeat.

    For extra support, consider doing this near a wall. Aim for 3 sets of 15 reps twice or thrice a week.

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    2. Forward Lunges

      When it comes to strength training, lunges are one of the most popular choices. It strengthens your legs while improving mobility and stability. Lunges also sculpt your butt and abs. What’s more, it can also help improve your posture. In order to do forward lunges properly:

      • Stand tall holding a dumbbell in each hand with your feet hip-width apart.
      • Take a big step forward with your right leg and lower your body into a lunge until both knees are bent 90 degrees.
      • If possible, lightly touch the floor with your left knee.
      • Push off on your front foot to bring yourself to the starting position.
      • Repeat on the other side.

      Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 reps on each leg. You can also do it without dumbbells if you’re just getting started.

      3. Single-Leg Deadlift

        Single-leg deadlifts targets all the major muscles, such as hamstrings, glutes, and even your core. It develops strength, balance, and stability. Another advantage of doing single-leg deadlifts is that it improves mobility through the legs and hips. To do a single-leg deadlift:

        • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
        • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing the front of your thighs.
        • Lean forward and shift your weight on the left leg with your right leg extended slightly behind you.
        • Lift your extended right leg until your body is parallel to the floor, arms hanging down.
        • Slowly return to the starting position.
        • Repeat and switch legs after doing all the reps.

        Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps with a 60 second break in between. If you’re new to this, you can also do it without weights.

        4. Jumping Jacks

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          Jumping jacks are an excellent leg toning workout move. They work your quadriceps, glutes, and hips. According to one study[1], they may also improve bone density. Additionally, this exercise also increases strength and agility. Here’s how you do jumping jacks:

          • Stand straight with your legs together and arms to your sides.
          • Jump into the air and spread your legs slightly beyond shoulder-width apart while your arms stretch over your head.
          • Jump back quickly, bringing yourself to the starting position.
          • Repeat.

          Start with 3 sets of 10 or more repetitions of jumping jacks.

          5. Single-Leg Calf Raise

          See the source image

            The single-leg calf raise strengthens both your lower legs and helps improve balance on one foot. This is important because it can improve sports performance and prevent injuries. Furthermore, it can also help prevent the onset of knee pain. Finally, it may also increase the size of your calves. To do a single-leg calf raise:

            • Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart and arms on your hips.
            • Bend your left knee and bring it hip-level.
            • Lift your right heel off the ground and balance on the ball of your foot.
            • Pause for a moment and lower your heel.
            • Repeat and then switch sides.

            Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps on each leg. Consider adding weight to make it more difficult.

            6. Side Lunges

              This leg toning workout move targets the sides of the glutes and quadricep muscles. It’s also a great exercise for tight hips and groin. Needless to say, it strengthens both your legs and boosts stability. To execute a side lunge the right way:

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              • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hands clasped in front of your chest.
              • Take a big step out to the right and lower your right knee until it is bent 90 degrees while pushing your butt back.
              • Keep your left leg straight during the process.
              • Push back and return to the starting position.
              • Repeat.

              Shoot for 10-12 reps and switch sides. Aim for 3 sets on each leg.

              7. Plank Leg Lifts

                Plank leg lifts work your butt and upper legs. With this exercise, you’ll also be able to get the benefits of a regular plank, meaning it will tone your whole body. It trains your core, glutes, and shoulders. Even better? It also trims body fat and improves posture. To do a plank leg lift:

                • Begin in a low plank position with your body straight and weight on your forearms.
                • Tighten your abs and raise your right leg, pausing for a moment.
                • Lower your right leg and do the same with your left leg.
                • Repeat.

                Do 2-3 sets of 15 reps. Brace your abs and glutes during the process.

                8. Glute Bridge

                  The glute bridge makes one of the best leg toning workouts for beginners. It sculpts your legs and improves hip mobility. If done correctly, it also enhances core stability. This exercise is also safe for people with chronic back pain. To do a glute bridge:

                  • Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Place your arms at your sides.
                  • Squeeze your abs and glutes.
                  • Raise your hips off the floor until your shoulder, hips, and knees are in a straight line.
                  • Pause for a few seconds and return to the starting position.
                  • Repeat.

                  Shoot for 2 sets of 10-12 reps. Do this 2-3 times a week. You can also wrap a resistance band around your thighs to challenge your endurance.

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                  9. Step-Ups

                    If you’re looking to strengthen your thighs, step-ups are an excellent choice. It targets the quadricep muscle that helps protect the knee. What’s more, it also improves balance and stability. You can do step-ups anywhere. All you have to do is find a bench, chair or any raised platform. To do a step-up properly:

                    • Begin standing facing a step.
                    • Place your right foot on the step and left foot on the floor.
                    • Press through your right heel and bring the left foot up until your left knee forms a 90-degree angle.
                    • Hold this position for a moment and then return to the starting position.
                    • Repeat and switch legs.

                    Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 reps on each side. To make it harder, hold dumbbells in your hands.

                    10. Dumbbell Good Morning

                    How to Do Good Mornings With Perfect Form | Muscle & Fitness

                      Dumbbell good mornings mainly target the hamstrings, but they also improve hip and back strength. You’ll also be able to develop stronger glutes with this exercise. Overall, it’s a great exercise for toning your legs. To perform this exercise:

                      1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent while holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level.
                      2. Hinge forward at your hips, and lower your torso until it is parallel to the floor.
                      3. Hold this position for 4-5 seconds and return to your original position.
                      4. Repeat.

                      Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 reps.

                      Final Thoughts

                      There are so many benefits of having well-toned legs. Stronger legs not only look good, but they also give you greater independence as you age. Therefore, it’s important to take good care of them.

                      In addition to exercise, you should also consider exfoliation and moisturization to keep your legs smooth, healthy, and firm. Always remember that strong legs are important if you want to live a healthy and active life. So, start working those leg muscles today, and you’ll thank yourself later.

                      More Tips on Strengthening Your Legs

                      Featured photo credit: Sergio Pedemonte via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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