Hello! As a personal trainer once in a while I get asked how does meditation affect your health? Before I answer that, I’d like to give you my approach to how meditation connects to fitness. I take a holistic view when looking at overall fitness and health.
What I mean by that is, I look at fitness as encompassing not just physical activity, but also your mind and soul. I believe all 3 need to be working synergistically for you to be 100% healthy. Since the mind is about 33% of the equation, I feel it is of the utmost importance for it to be as healthy as possible.
One way to help get your mind in optimum condition is with meditation. For more great information on meditation you can view an article by ACE (American Council on Exercise) here.
Preparing to Meditate
1. Wear Comfortable Attire – You should make sure you wear comfortable clothing. This will help you relax and focus easier.
2. Go Somewhere Where it is Quiet – Choose a room somewhere in your home or wherever you are that is quiet. It’s very hard to concentrate if there’s a lot of noise around you.
3. Position – You can be basically be in any position that’s comfortable for you. Most people like to sit or lie down.
4. Temperature – Make sure the air isn’t too hot or too cold. The temperature should be about room temperature so you’re comfortable and can concentrate easier.
How to Meditate
Many people think it takes a lot of time to meditate, but that’s not true. Quite often just 5 or 10 minutes is enough to make you feel better. There are basically 2 ways to meditate. The “no mind” method is where you don’t focus on anything and try to totally clear your mind. The other is called “mindful meditation” where you focus on a single thought and nothing else.
For both techniques you will need to focus on your breathing. This will cause you to become aware of how your lungs work and how air enters your body.
By focusing on the rhythm of your breathing and how it feels, you’ll begin to see the process of how you can control your thinking. Your eyes can actually be open or closed, but for beginners it’s usually easier to focus with your eyes closed.
To begin meditating take long, slow, deep breaths evenly. Breathe through your nose and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Let your body get into an easy rhythm of breathing in and out. If you’re using the no mind technique, after taking a couple breaths try to clear your mind. Then repeat the breathing process with a clear mind.
If you’re using the mindful meditation method, after inhaling and exhaling a couple slow, deep breaths try to focus on one thought. This should be a thought that is positive, calming, and soothing. For example, it could be something like ocean waves rolling in, a waterfall, a light breeze blowing, etc.
Once you’ve started focusing on that thought repeat the breathing process again. Just meditating a few minutes a day 3-4 times a week can help your overall concentration level.
Can Meditation Help You Exercise?
Meditation can definitely help your workouts because it’s a way to reign in your thoughts and focus on your breathing. This can be beneficial regardless of the type of exercise you’re doing. Whether you’re jogging, lifting weights, etc you have to concentrate to perform well.
Also, sometimes we have issues in our personal or professional lives that hinder us from having a good workout. If you had a fight with your spouse, a bad day at work, etc sometimes it prevents you from getting the most out of your workout.
By meditating a few minutes before you start exercising, a lot of times you can clear your head and get a better workout in. This is because you can dial in on what your body’s about to do and move more effectively through the movements.
Health Benefits of Meditation
1. Reduces Stress – Meditation decreases activity in the right side of the brain which helps with a better stress response.
2. Lowers Blood Pressure – Meditation requires less oxygen so the heart can beat slower. This helps with lowering blood pressure.
3. Fat Loss – By meditating, your body can lower the stress hormone cortisol which helps reduce body fat.
4. Better Skin – By having less cortisol in your system it leads to better skin. This is because cortisol can cause collagen loss which can give you wrinkles.
5. Immune System – Meditation can help your body produce antibodies which leads to a stronger immune system. As a result, you’ll usually have less colds, flu, and other illnesses.
6. Better Bone Density – Cortisol production can weaken bones and lead to osteoporosis which is reduced bone thickness and density.
7. Regulates Blood Sugar – Research has shown that meditation can help balance glucose and insulin levels in the blood.
8. Increased Fertility – Meditation can help women have increased fertility.
9. Better Memory – Excess cortisol release can damage the brain and impair memory and learning.
10. Emotions – Meditation has shown to increase alpha and theta brain waves which help you attain a state of relaxation.
11. Joints – Consistent meditation can help with reduced inflammation in your joints.
12. Improved Productivity – Meditation can lead to improved daily productivity because you’re able to concentrate better. You’re less likely to become distracted with things that derail you from your current task.
Summary – I just want to reiterate how I think fitness should be viewed from a holistic perspective. As I mentioned earlier I believe meditation is a huge part of your overall health. Not only is it a great benefit to your mind, but the positive physical effects are tremendous as well!
I try to meditate every day even if it’s only for a few minutes. I can say from my own experience it’s definitely helped me focus better on life. If you have any experiences with meditation you’d like to share with us, by all means feel free to let us know.
Also, if you have any comments or questions please let me know and I’ll be glad to get back to you. Thank you for your time and have a fantastic day!