When performed separately, both meditation and exercise are known to have numerous advantages for your overall health and wellness. Just as physical activity and exercise is excellent for your overall well-being, so is daily meditation and mindfulness.
But these practices are even more beneficial when they are combined together. Regular meditation and exercise together are proven to boost your mental and physical health, promote motivation and productivity and improve performance in all aspects of life.
Meditation is a simple practice that focuses on helping reduce stress and anxiety, becoming mindful of our physical and mental health, and gaining awareness of lives.
Mediation can be anything from a 60 minute structured yoga session to simply placing a hand over your heart and taking a couple deep conscious breaths. As long as you are focusing inward and being mindful of your breathing, you can meditate in any position you desire, be it sitting, standing or lying down. Sessions can be as long as you need them, be it 30 seconds or an hour.
Meditation before exercise prepares you for your workout by clearing your mind and de-stressing your body. A clear mind at the start of a workout helps you stay focused and driven throughout the exercise.
Whether we are conscious of it or not, stress tends to build up in our bodies throughout our day to day routines. A body that is tense from prolonged stress is unable to act to its fullest physical potential during a workout. However, a body that is relaxed and stress free is more capable of higher physical performance.
When you meditate right before an exercise you are able to release a lot of tension in your body, allowing you to start your workout from a clean slate and a clear mind. This will make you more likely to reach your workout goals and you could potentially go above and beyond your intended limits!
Meditation after exercise has similar effects, and acts as a cool down for your mind and body. Meditating just after finishing a high intensity physical exercise helps your mind reflect on the work you just performed and it gives your body a moment to breathe and recover before you tackle the rest of your day. This recovery period of meditation also creates that clean slate feeling before starting your next activity of the day.
According to a study published in Translational Psychiatry in 2016, when done together, meditation and exercise are more effective at combating negative thoughts, and therefore reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
The combination of these healthful practices is a known remedy for all types of individuals, both clinically depressed and non-depressed. When used in tandem with treatments such as doctor-prescribed medications and therapy sessions, regular exercise and meditation has been shown to ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.
The key to success behind this approach depends on where you are focusing your thoughts and your energy. Both meditation and exercise require a deep and intentional focus on breathing and movement.
This internal shift in your center of attention keeps your thoughts from drifting to the past or the future and helps you stay present in the current moment which is either the movement of the exercise or the stillness of the meditation.
That’s right, practicing meditation with your workout is a major brain exercise too! The Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine published a study in 2014 showed that the combined mental exertion that both meditation and physical exercise requires helps the human brain to increase its cognitive abilities.
This allows us to strengthen our memories, become better planners and goal setters and successfully execute those plans and goals. And as many are aware, a successful execution commonly leads to achievement.
So there you have it! Synchronizing your mental and physical exercises will help lead you to achieve your goals.
Combined exercise and meditation provides astronomical full body benefits, from mental and physical health benefits. Even though meditation sounds like a simple practice, it can be difficult at times to keep a clear mind, especially if you are new to mindfulness practices.
The best way to reap the most benefit from this combined approach is to make it a lifestyle. If you need help getting started or sticking to a routine there are many guided meditation apps available that will help you get used to the practice and set a schedule. The best time to start combining these practices is now!
See for yourself how a happy mind and a happy body can work wonders in your life!