Dr. Erin Nitschke by Dr. Erin Nitschke

Time is a limited commodity in today’s fast-paced, buzzing world of social media, eCommerce, email and streaming videos. It’s something we often feel we don’t have or can’t take. But time, specifically focused time, is necessary for a quality workout. This doesn’t mean adding extra minutes to a treadmill run; it means taking time to focus on the goal itself—the workout. And focus means limiting or eliminating outside digital distractions. As distractions go, “at-your-fingertips” technology (or tech) is one of the most significant distractors. Apply some of these tips and tricks during your next workout to experience a distraction-free sweat session.

  • Do what you’re doing. Alerts and notifications on digital devices have an alluring appeal. A familiar vibration or ring tone signifying an email, text or other message instantly grabs your attention; you take a “quick” break from the current task to check the new notification. Why not? But when this happens during a workout, focus is broken, motivation decreases and you’re soon trapped in a social media black hole. During an exercise session, leave the notifications until you’re finished. Keep doing what you were doing prior to the notification coming through. That next post can wait.
  • Use airplane mode. Because notifications call to us, consider setting your tech devices to “do not disturb” or using “airplane mode” so notifications are muted while you’re working out.
  • Leave the phone behind. Mobile phones are perceived to be an additional and necessary accessory, but are they essential during a workout? What would happen if the phone was left at home or set aside in a gym bag or locker for an hour? Next time, try this trick.
  • Clear distracting digital clutter. Sometimes distractions occur because digital tech is in the line of sight and using it is a habitual response to its presence. Put away the laptop, set aside the phone or store the tablet. Take a chance and see what happens.
  • Dedicate a space. For individuals who favor at-home workouts, distractions can be even louder. The television is on, the phone rings or the home office beckons—such conditions are ripe for a derailed workout session. If possible, set aside an “exercise only” space in your home.
  • Leverage the outdoors. Streaming workouts are an awesome way to achieve your fitness goals, but try switching it up and getting some activity outside. Go for a walk or run, ride a bike on a trail, hike or do some yoga in a park or your backyard. Spend 30 minutes getting closer to nature—it will do wonders for your mind.
  • Schedule time to be active. Meetings are scheduled. Kids’ events are scheduled. Social engagements are scheduled. Distractions often develop because we neglect to set aside a specific block of time committed to physical activity. It isn’t always realistic to “sneak in” a workout between emails, text conversations or social media browsing. Set a weekly schedule (add it to your calendar) and stick to it as much as possible. During this time, there’s no distracting tech allowed and emails, phone calls and other messages can wait until the workout is done.

Digital devices are essential to the modern lifestyle. Nearly every aspect of life requires some element of tech. However, when the use of tech is left unmanaged, it can sabotage even our best efforts to remain focused. Tech, though important, is a tool to be mastered and should not master our lives. We need to learn to harness its power instead of allowing it to harness us. Unplug from tech and allow yourself to fully focus on quality fitness experiences.

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