Research and studies have proven that both exercise and meditation help combat depression and anxiety in nearly the same way. They help people feel happier, relaxed and more in control.
Exercise involves physical activity, sweating and hardcore heart rates, whereas meditation is an easy, quiet activity in which we barely move. How can these two practices actually have the same effect on our bodies and brains?
We’re going to look at the similarities between exercise and meditation, and how it actually makes sense to lump the two together when pursuing a more well-rounded and peaceful lifestyle, ultimately connecting to the higher self. The exercise involves meditation, even though many may not realise it.
Some call exercise “moving meditation” because it creates the same types of emotional and chemical changes in our brains as meditation.
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It allows people to detach from the day’s chaos, and reconnect with their own inner spirit. Both meditation and exercise produce more calm and controlled thinking, along with improved creativity and concentration.
Slower exercises performed over a longer period of time, such as swimming laps or long-distance runs, require the same type of deep, relaxed breathing as meditating. Deep breathing on its own is not a replacement for exercise, but it delivers many of the same benefits, including enhanced weight loss.
Studies have shown deep breathing is also effective in easing symptoms of anxiety and depression. During exercise, the brain’s alpha and gamma waves increase, which causes mental clarity and lowers cortisol levels.
Stress and anxiety cause the hormone cortisol to rise or stay elevated, causing negative health effects over time. In today’s busy world, every- one is looking for ways to receive the maximum benefit in a minimum of time.
Make progress on your fitness goals and receive the added benefits of greater mental focus, clarity and inner peace. There are different types of meditation: guided, movement-based, such as yoga, or just sit in silence for a few minutes.
Investigate which ones you can easily incorporate into your life. Common meditation is yoga. After a workout, doing some yoga will help you properly stretch and end your exercise session with an active form of meditation. Otherwise, you can opt for a more passive meditation session, which sounds easy but can be quite challenging.
Don’t underestimate the challenge of sitting down quietly for minutes. The ultimate goal is to quieten your mind, which will have positive effects on your body.
If you are new to meditation, you can start with a simple routine at the end of your workout session.
Once you start getting comfortable with this exercise, challenge yourself by increasing the amount of time you dedicate to meditation. A common question is “how long should you meditate for?” Here is the good news: there is no correct answer – do whatever works best for you.
Zulu is a qualified biokineticist and cofounder of PopUpGym. Follow her on Instagram: @letshego.zulu; Twitter: @letshegom; Facebook: Letshego Zulu