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Hack your workout: the best apps for mindfulness

If there’s one thing that should be on our minds this year, it’s mindfulness.

Approved by the NHS and NICE, mindfulness is a way of preventing stress, anxiety and depression. Unsurprisingly, it’s also a great way of enhancing workout sessions. From learning to tune out distracting thoughts (hint: you probably are doing “it” correctly) to experiencing the full benefits of a good workout, mindfulness is a surefire way of improving your general performance in everything you do.

So, how can you incorporate mindfulness into your workouts? Thankfully, there are a whole host of mindfulness apps available for both Android and Apple devices. Here are our favourites:

#1: Headspace

Price: Free, with an optional £9.99 monthly subscription.

Designed to teach you the basics of mindfulness and meditation in a series of unpatronising animations, Headspace can be used anywhere. Combining ancient meditation practices with modern scientific research, Headspace strives to exercise the brain, helping users exercise their minds and become more conditioned to positive traits. Sure, it might change the brain, but is that a bad thing?

In 2018, Headspace partnered with Nike to help athletes and gym-goers enhance their workout sessions. By allowing users to connect their mental and physical states truly, they’re encouraged to “get in the zone”, and coached on how to regain control of their run, outlook on life, and life itself.

Headspace is available to download on Android and iOS

#2: Calm

Price: Free, with an optional £9.99 monthly subscription

Focused on providing users with guided mindfulness sessions, Calm is the perfect meditation app for beginners and more seasoned meditators. Featuring a range of voice-led meditation sessions, Calm is perfect when you want to ground during a workout.

Better yet, Calm’s uses extend to more than the workout. The app is packed with useful resources. Users can access expert advice on sleep, relationships and anxiety, while following simple exercises to sleep, and generally live better. Recently, the app has introduced new features that allow users to utilise “mindful movement and gentle stretches” – perfect when you need to release tension in your body and recharge your mind.

Calm is available on Android and iOS

#3: Stop, Breathe & Think

Price: Free, with an optional £9.99 monthly subscription

Stop, Breathe & Think (SBT) are three words we could all learn to embrace in everyday life. Focusing on the emotional wellness of under 25s, SBT helps children, teens and young adults build emotional strength.

Personalisation is what brings SBT into its own. By collecting the emotional data of users (on a consensual basis, of course), SBT delivers bespoke mindfulness programmes. These programmes are made up of meditation sessions and exercises, including yoga sessions and acupressure videos.

Incorporating yoga before or after a workout can be a great way to ground and reap the rewards of a good workout. Once you are shown how to relax within the app, you’ll be able to find peace of mind anywhere.

Stop, Breathe & Think is available on Android and iOS

#4: Aura

Price: Free, with an optional £7.99 monthly subscription

Created with the more seasoned meditator in mind, Aura focuses on providing users with short bursts of meditation. The sessions change daily and can be delivered by any one of Aura’s thirty mindfulness teachers and therapists. Users are encouraged to share their feelings every day and make notes, allowing the app to track your emotional wellbeing in a handy graph.

If you choose to upgrade to the full version of the service, users can unlock more than a thousand exercises. Aura is designed to suit any lifestyle at any time; users can discover how to sleep peacefully and stay positive. Compared to many of the other mindfulness apps available, Aura can be a bit overwhelming for the beginner, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try it.

Aura is available on Android and iOS

#5: Smiling mind

Price: Free

An Australian not-for-profit, Smiling Mind is striving to bring mindfulness to the world. The free version of the app is the full version, meaning that users can access the entire library of resources without any subscription fee – perfect if you’re still not entirely convinced.

You can choose from mindfulness programmes tailored to every age group (from 12 upwards), to help everyone practice mindfulness.

If you’re an adult trying the app, sessions apply to every part of the day, from your commute to your evening meal, meaning you’ll be able to find something that applies to your workout with ease. Encouraging users to become more productive and engaged through their mindful activities, Smiling Minds are on their way to providing a better life for everyone.

Smiling mind is available on Android and iOS

It is about time that many of us learnt to put our brains first, stop worrying and enjoy life. In that respect, mindfulness and meditation is a great way to start. Why shouldn’t we strive to create the best versions of ourselves?

With so many of the services available offering a range of simple exercises that can be easily slotted into even the most hectic fitness regime, making meditation part of your life this year is a great way to ensure you can live your best life, and enjoy every minute.

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