The benefits of exercise for breast cancer survivors during and after treatment is well known. But…we all struggle to stick with an exercise program, particularly when life gets busy. A new study suggests that by paying more attention to the experience of exercise itself, we are more likely to continue an exercise program. This is important, especially to reluctant exercisers.

Research confirms that one of the most reliable indicators of whether people will continue to exercise is that they find exercise satisfying. They gain enjoyment from being active!

A recent study hoped to shed light on what makes exercise feel pleasurable to some and like drudgery to others. Specifically, they were interested in the role of mindfulness, a deliberate awareness of what is happening in the present moment. To test this relationship between mindfulness and satisfaction with exercise, Dutch researchers interviewed 398 women and men who identified themselves as physically active.

Participants were asked how much they exercised, how satisfied they were with that exercise and how mindful they were during exercise. Not surprisingly, the people who reported being most satisfied with exercise were also the people who exercised the most. What was interesting is that mindfulness played an important role in making exercise feel satisfying. People who reported being mindful and present during exercise also generally reported satisfaction with exercise. This, in turn, should help them stick with a regular exercise program.

So…the next time you walk, run, cycle or work out at the gym, be aware of the sensations of your body and mind. Immerse yourself in the experience. Do something new and challenging, and incorporate things you really enjoy. Try adding some fun to your workout with this month’s “Balls, Bosus and Bands” Class, presented by our TurningPoint physical therapists on March 25, 2015 in the TurningPoint gym.

Tsafou KE et al. Mindfulness and satisfaction in physical activity: A cross-sectional study in the Dutch population. J Health Psychol. 2015, Jan 28. pii: 1359105314567207. [Epub ahead of print]