A recent review suggests that combining mindfulness with exercise might be the key to effectively managing stress amid the potential challenges of 2024.
The findings, based on a review of 35 studies involving over 2,200 participants, reveal that individuals who engage in both exercise and mindfulness meditation experience lower levels of worry, stress, anxiety, and depression compared to those who only partake in one of these activities.
Lead researcher Masha Remskar, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Bath in England, highlights that mindfulness meditation, which involves focusing on the present moment, can enhance exercise experiences. By providing motivation and helping individuals overcome the temporary discomfort associated with workouts, mindfulness can contribute to a more positive and accepting approach to physical activity.
The study emphasizes that practicing mindfulness prompts individuals to reconsider their lifestyles, fostering acceptance and reducing self-judgment, ultimately aiding in the development of healthy habits.
While both exercise and mindfulness have been separately linked to improved mental health, this review stands out as one of the first to highlight the potential enhanced benefits when the two are combined.
The review indicates that the combined approach effectively reduces depression, anxiety, and stress in participants compared to control groups that engaged in neither meditation nor exercise. It also shows promise compared to groups solely focused on working out or meditating.
As a result of these findings, Remskar’s team collaborated with the non-profit Medito Foundation to create a free mindfulness audio course designed to help individuals incorporate exercise into their routines. The researchers plan to release a second guide later in the year, focusing on sustaining an exercise habit.
Steven Yorke, co-founder of Medito, emphasizes the importance of making mindfulness and meditation accessible to everyone by offering free resources. Medito Foundation’s mindfulness app, Medito, remains free of charge, ensuring that the benefits of mindfulness are available to all.
Furthermore, the researchers are gearing up for a large clinical trial to further investigate the combined impact of mindfulness and exercise on overall well-being.