April 21, 2016

tech-free workout

Today’s athletes have it made when it comes to getting all decked out for a workout. Between cutting-edge fitness trackers, a variety of music sources on the go, and apps that track your workout from start to finish, any physical activity can benefit from a bit of technology.

How much of that technology is truly necessary though? How much of it is potentially a distraction?

Athletes were finishing marathons and winning weight lifting competitions long before smartphone apps were around. The basic needs for an effective workout are appropriate clothing and footwear, fuel/hydration sources, safe equipment/environments, and a determined mindset. Everything else is just supplementary.

Though, technology can be a great motivator. From the music that makes you run a little faster, to the fitness tracker challenges that encourage you to take an extra few steps to meet your daily goal. But is there something to be said for taking a break from all the tech – at least on occasion?

You don’t need to completely ban yourself from technology while you run, lift, or play a sport; it’s just good to know the benefits that a tech-free workout can bring.

Free Thought

You may think that hitting the pavement for a run is a way to break away from your everyday stresses, but if you take your phone or smartwatch along, you’ll still be connected. Even worse – if you see a text or email that you’d like to answer, but really can’t while you’re away, it could compound the stress you are trying to relieve. Whenever possible, unplug during your workouts and let your mind wander in whatever direction it wants.

Greater Bodily Connection

There’s a reason people get such a high from working out. The connection between happiness hormones, like endorphins, and the physical portion of exercise are well documented. When you aren’t looking down at your stats on a phone or watch, and the music and words of others aren’t entering your subconscious, you will have a much deeper connection to what your body is doing in the moment. This could mean improved breathing techniques, better form, and even faster times.

The energy that goes into tapping a fitness tracker, skipping a song, or focusing on what all your electronic components are telling you can end up distracting you from what you’re doing. Try channeling that energy into the heart of your workout instead, and see what improvements you can make!

Working Out for the Enjoyment

Not all exercise is about chasing stats and shattering measurable goals. Sometimes just enjoying the mental and physical boost of a workout is enough. When you are dependent on technology to tell you how you are doing during a workout, or give you a virtual pat on the back, a bit of that mental and physical enjoyment is lost. There are still plenty of benefits to a slow run or a low-impact yoga class, though they may not burn as many calories as higher-impact alternatives. When it comes to working out, it isn’t always a numbers game, and freeing yourself of technology can remind you of that.

It’s important to note that meeting goals through the use of smartphone apps, fitness trackers, and music on the go has inspired a lot of people to get up and get active, and that’s valuable. Working out with all the bells and whistles of technology has its benefits, but in some ways a tech-free experience offers even greater advantages.

How about you? Do you rely on technology to make it through your workouts, or do you prefer to go sans tech?