We live in a world wired for distractions of every kind, and this is true even in Gold’s Gym locations. Most, if not all, clients use a digital device as an exercise tool (e.g., apps on smartphones), check their gadgets for emails, social media updates, and news, and listen to music while exercising, among others. The result: Many will have shorter attention spans that can affect their exercise performance.
This isn’t surprising as our brains aren’t wired for focusing on multiple targets despite the popular notion that we can multitask without consequences. Indeed, studies have shown that multi-taskers experience a decrease by as much as 40% in their performance (Schwartz & Goldstein 2017). When people become more focused on a single target, their performance improves.
With that said, here are two ways that you can increase your concentration.
Mindfulness refers to the state of knowing where you are, what you are doing, and what to do when your mind wanders. Think of mindfulness as being in the moment, a state where you can focus intensely on whatever you’re doing. The activity may be eating healthy food, pedaling on a stationary bike, or lifting weights but whatever it is, you are completely invested in it.
For example, when you’re lifting weights, you will feel each contraction and relaxation of your muscles, feel your inhalations and exhalations, and be conscious of where your body is in space. You aren’t just lifting weights mechanically but doing so mindfully, a more effective approach to exercise.
Mindfulness also contributes to neuroplasticity, or neuronal rewiring, which is useful in learning healthier habits. Over time, your mind and body adopts these habits nearly automatically.
Be More Motivated
Motivation is a skill and, thus, it can be learned through practice. You can start with encouragement from your personal trainer – your conscience and cheerleader, if you will – but you shouldn’t rely on him all the time. You must also increase your motivation so that your performance can also improve.
This is especially true if you’re a baby boomer because you may be discouraged more easily than your younger counterparts. You will find that the more you motivate yourself, the more you can push through with your workout on a consistent basis.
Motivation isn’t just in the mind! Studies have shown that a positive mindset can increase endorphin, the feel good hormone, and dopamine, the neurotransmitter that increases feelings of pleasure.
Obviously, both mindfulness and motivation requires practice. You can do them even when you’re out of the gym so that these become a habit in time.