“Let silence take you to the core of life.” ― Rumi
Exercise has always been closely associated with my personal journey into minimalism.
For my first birthday after becoming minimalist, I asked for a membership to our local gym. It was clutter-free. It was symbolic of the change that had taken place in my life. It was practical, intentional, and beneficial for life.
When I first began working out, I listened to music with buds in my ear. Everyone else seemed to be listening to something. And thus, I assumed it must be the best way to get in a good workout. I listened to playlists… radio… books… speeches… even baseball games.
But eventually, after a long period of trial and error, I turned off noise altogether during my workouts. I immediately fell in love with the refreshing workout environment of silence. It was peaceful. It was calming. And I began taking note of the numerous benefits.
Benefits of Exercising Without Artificial Noise
1. I have learned to enjoy the gift of silence.
In a world that is constantly filled with noise and distraction, I have begun to crave precious windows of silence. Running without music/talk of any kind provides opportunity on a consistent basis to experience it.
2. I can better listen to my body.
Distraction-free, I am able to better focus on the messages coming from my body when I exercise. I can feel my legs loosen during my first mile, my breathing deepen on uphill climbs, or my arms begin to give way during a set of reps. This attentiveness helps me better assess my body and keep me from injury.
3. It provides opportunity for meditation and prayer.
I consider solitude, meditation, and prayer to be important disciplines in my spiritual journey. Joining these practices with physical exercise turns it into a spiritual exercise.
4. It stimulates creativity.
There are numerous studies that directly link aerobic exercise and cognitive creativity. With no outside influence directing my thoughts, my mind is free to wander and create as it desires. Some of my most creative thoughts came while exercising. In fact, this entire post was recently written during a 3-mile run.
5. It allows space to discern voices.
There are countless voices seeking to gain influence in our hearts and minds. Learning to discern the healthy from the harmful is an important, never-ending pursuit. I have found that extended periods of exercise provide heightened senses to evaluate these voices. As a result, I am able to more wisely determine which voices to follow.
6. I exercise with less baggage.
When I was training for my first marathon, I quickly learned the value of traveling light. Learning to run without the requirement of a music source allows me that opportunity.
7. It is safer.
I live in the suburbs. Most of my runs take place on streets alongside bicycles and automobiles. Practically speaking, I feel safer when my ears are tuned to the environment around me.
When I tell people I prefer to run/workout without music, most of them are genuinely surprised. They quickly respond with specific rationale of how music helps them stay physically fit. It helps keep them motivated, distracted, focused, or in rhythm. And I get it. I really do.
But for me, because of the reasons listed above, I’ll choose exercising without noise any day… and hopefully everyday.