Meditation has been referred to as “fitness for the mind.” So what happens when fitness for the body is paired with fitness for the mind?
The feeling you get after a blissful meditation session is truly one-of-a-kind. It’s as if someone’s undone the imaginary zipper on your chest, allowing all of your stress, anxiety, and negative emotions to leave your body and make way for feelings of peace and balance. Maybe you even feel this way about working out: like the stresses of your day are melting away and rolling down your body in cascades of hard-earned sweat.
Meditation and working out share a seriously strong connection, whether you realize it or not. In fact, meditation can benefit your workout in a variety of ways, and if you’re consistently doing both, you’re setting yourself up for success both mentally and physically.
HOW MEDITATION CAN HELP WITH YOUR FITNESS PROGRAM
- Meditation prepares your mind and your body for exercise. More than anything, meditation focuses your attention and energy. It also allows you to stay motivated for exercise and inspires you to be as effective as possible with each workout.
- Meditation can be a preparation for the brain post-workout or a way to be present for an upcoming workout. Whether you take a few moments to gather your thoughts with a couple of deep, conscious breaths to focus on being present for the upcoming workout. Or you’ve come off physically taxing your body, taking a moment to acknowledge that work is important.
- Mediation can help guide your workout. Since meditation makes you more attuned to your internal state, you are better able to hear what your body needs both in and out of the gym. When you are more aware of what your body is saying to you, you’re better able to work with it as opposed to against it. This helps improve the quality of your workouts and prevent injury.
- Meditation is versatile. You can do it while sitting, standing, lying down, or walking. Sitting is often dubbed the best position to meditate. It keeps the body and minds attentive versus the relaxation that occurs when you lay down. Pausing for a brief moment, putting your hand over your heart and taking 2-5 deep, conscious breaths will reset and rejuvenate you.
- Be consistent to reap the benefits. Just like working out, meditating requires practice and persistence in order to get the best results. You can think of it as taking your brain to the gym; the more you do it, the more the muscles will develop and the easier it will be to fit into your routine.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF MEDITATION
- Makes you happier. Meditation causes the pituitary gland in our brain to secrete endorphins that help elevate mood and have a positive effect on the whole body. It also alters brain activity to enhance the area associated with positive emotional experiences.
- Reduces stress. Endorphins also act as a means of reducing stress levels in the brain; so by meditating you can stop worrying about the little things in life and concentrate on the exploration of yourself and the promotion of positive feelings.
- Helps you focus. Meditating allows you to learn how to discipline yourself and this will reflect in your everyday lifestyle. When you address tasks, your mind will focus more naturally and you will experience an increased efficiency.
- Improves sleep. Scientific studies have shown that those who meditate enhance their slow wave sleep pattern, which can help fight insomnia. Furthermore, focussing the mind on mental and physical processes will aid relaxation and consequently, sleep.
- Lowers blood pressure. Research has also shown that meditation can reduce blood pressure, both in the short term and later in life. By decreasing psychological stress and increasing coping ability, blood pressure decreases, helping you pursue a healthier life.
- Relieves Pain. Long-term practice of meditation can lead to physical changes in the brain that help alter the perception of pain. Those who meditate will experience lower pain sensitivity. Mindfulness, a result of meditation, can also help those who suffer chronic pain come to terms.
Meditation can have a profound impact on your overall mental health, particularly when paired with exercise. With meditation, you’ll discover that when you get distracted during a workout, you can bring your focus back to what you’re doing much more easily. You might even find that your workouts are more efficient and effective, as your improved focus allows you to do more in less time.
All of the benefits of meditation listed combine to help you become a healthier person. Reducing blood pressure, anxiety and depression help you to handle pain and illness better and as an individual, you can expect to become calmer and more centered, which will help you process decisions that lead to a healthy, long and fulfilled life.
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