Learn how meditation helps your body prepare for or respond to exercise, as well as how to maximize the benefits depending on your pre or post-workout goals.
Meditation provides many different benefits to your body and well-being in general, leading many fitness enthusiasts to wonder if it is beneficial for a workout as well.
The answer to that question is, in fact, a resounding yes!
Applying meditation can be a way to reach your goals faster and help you stay disciplined in the process.
If done correctly, you can even change how your body responds to the exercise.
Here’s what you need to know:
A common understanding of meditation is that it brings peace and less stress. It’s a great way to improve your emotional state and even affect you throughout the day.
By meditating, many parts of the body reset or calm down.
Here are some of the effects:
– Improves sleep quality
– Improves blood pressure when resting
– Lowers resting heart rate
– Increases tolerance to pain
– Faster recovery
– More focus on the present situation
– Reduces any negative emotions
Many scientific studies suggest that meditation is a great way to deal with symptoms one feels in the body.
While research is still ongoing, recommendations for meditation are known to help with conditions such as:
– Chronic pain
– Sleep problems
– High blood pressure
It is not a replacement for any traditional medication, but it can be a supplement to any therapy or medicine one is taking.
Some people enjoy pre-workout meditation. It puts them in a more peaceful and focused state before getting into physical activity.
Meditating before your workout will allow you to release any tension in your muscles and stretch them. Many of those who practice this find that they have better focus and control when working out.
Studies show those who meditate before workouts experience reduced cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone, an alarm system in the body that affects your mood. By lowering it, you are reducing the strain on your body and can release unwanted stress.
There is also a direct connection between pre-workout meditation and depression.
According to one study conducted by Rutgers, people with depression showed fewer depressive symptoms and were less bothered by their thoughts after pre-workout meditation. After continuing this pre-workout meditation routine for eight weeks, it revealed a 40% reduction in symptoms among those who participated.
One of the ways to meditate before working out is mindful breathing. Find a quiet corner of your workout area or plugin earphones with some relaxing music.
From there, you can begin focusing on deep breathing.
Take 3 seconds to inhale, a 3-second pause, and 3 seconds to exhale. You can do this in any comfortable position you like. Some even incorporate yoga poses while doing this.
Doing this helps you turn off any excess adrenaline you may have in the workout.
For example, if you were in a stressful situation before the activity, your body could have entered an extended flight-or-fight mode, which can inhibit your movement or make it inefficient, thus tiring you out faster.
Meditation is a way to train your body, mind, and emotions. Regardless of the intensity of your workouts, most results only appear when you are recovering.
However, your body doesn’t enter that state right away, even after relaxing from your exercises. It can be overworked and can increase the risk of injury.
By meditating after your workout, you align your body back to a calm state so it can focus on healing.
It will also help produce endorphins that help the body relax, recover, and bring positive emotions.
Many who meditate after working out find an improved state of recovery. The results depend on the individual, but many have experienced a reduction in pain in the areas they targeted with their workout.
Most post-workout meditations focus on calmness and comfort.
The first thing you need to do is get into a position that allows you to relax, even if you aren’t moving.
For a traditional approach, set a timer for around 5-10 minutes. During these minutes, you can either close your eyes or focus your sight downwards. Place your hands on the ground or put them in a comfortable place facing upwards — but don’t focus on your posture too much.
Focus on slowing your breathing. If you get distracted by your thoughts, accept them and turn your attention back to your breath.
When you’ve hit the timer or feel that your meditation is at an end, slowly open your eyes.
Innovative applications like Healium take the benefits of post-workout meditation to the next level. These guided VR meditation sessions, fully immerse you while guiding you through a meditation experience that increases your mindfulness, relaxes your body, and better positions your body for recovery.
Read our latest blog to learn more about how virtual reality improves upon the effectiveness of meditation here!
Meditating before or after a workout can be a way for you to enhance your experience. It improves recovery and provides positive emotions, bringing more focus to your activities.
But, should you be meditating before or after a workout? Which is better?
The honest answer to that question is, “it depends”. Meditating before or after a workout each comes with its own set of benefits, and whether you knock out your meditation prior to or just following your workout will largely boil down to whether you’re trying to loosen up your body and focus or are instead trying to relax and aid in recovery.
In all actuality, the best approach would be to do both! We’ve written before about how often you should meditate (and the fact that there’s no such thing as meditating too much), so why not maximize the benefits of your new practice?
If you don’t know how or how often to meditate, our virtual reality app Healium can guide you and get you started.
As shown above, putting this into a routine prior to or after a workout has shown to bring many benefits and can be the first step to further improvement and a better mental fitness state.
Sarah Hill is the CEO of Healium, the world’s first biometrically-powered VR/AR immersive media channel controlled by the user's brainwaves and heart rate via consumer wearables.