Sitting still for long periods and losing weight may not seem like the most natural combination. Generally, we associate exercise with weight loss and immobility with weight gain! But meditation is very different to laying dormant in front of the television for hours. Why? Because meditation is a workout for the mind. And if you can train your mind to be positive, conscious and clear, the ripple effect will be better eating, mindful exercise and a fresher outlook on your life and your health.
Let us explain further:
What is meditation?
Meditation can be traced back to ancient Indian culture and has spread throughout the world over the centuries. In essence, meditation is stillness. A process of ‘being’. The sitter comfortably positions themselves in (typically) a crossed legged or laying down pose, clears their mind of obstructive thoughts and focuses their attention onto their breathing and body. Various forms of meditation exist, including guided visualisation, qi gong, zen Buddhist and transcendental, all of which have their own patterns and practises.
Who can meditate?
The wonderful thing about meditation is that it can be enjoyed by anybody at any location. In your own home, you can set up a meditation space using a comfortable chair or cushion, so long as the environment is quiet and undisturbed. You can also meditate away from the house, for example in a peaceful park or garden. Alternatively, if you would prefer to try a guided meditation, you can visit a meditation class or use YouTube to find the right meditation video for you.
What are the health benefits of meditation?
At Luxe Fitness, we like to only give you well-researched information when it comes to your health. Many followers of ancient and holistic practises make wild claims about health benefits that simply cannot be justified, which is why we have ensured that the following research comes from reputable authorities. So, what are the health benefits of meditation? Here’s just some of what we found:
The Immune System
Let’s face it. If you’re run down, constantly wiping your nose or just in a ‘fuzzy’ headspace, you’re not going to want to exercise. However, if your immune system is running efficiently and you’re combatting illnesses like a pro, you’re far more likely to work hard at the gym and lose that unwanted weight.
A fascinating study published in Psychosomatic Medicine (July 2003 - Volume 65 - Issue 4 - p 564–570), found that short term meditation has a positive impact on brain activity and the immune system, in this instance showing an improved antibody response to the influenza vaccine in those in the meditation group when compared to the control group.
Many people live with chronic pain and the effects can be distressing. Not only does it ramp up fatigue levels, but makes it harder to exercise and therefore more difficult to lose weight. The good news is, several studies have shown meditation to help with chronic pain, one of which observed a reduction in present-moment pain, negative body image, inhibition of activity by pain, symptoms, mood disturbance, and psychological symptomatology, including anxiety and depression.
If you’re not sleeping, not only will you feel less motivated to exercise, but will experience major carb cravings as your body attempts to find fuel for energy. Conversely, good sleep helps replenish the body and brain, giving you the get-up-and-go you need to thrive. If you’re a lousy sleeper, meditation might help. A study by researchers at Stanford University Medical Centre showed significant improvements in patients who combined meditation with CBT to address chronic insomnia. So, if you’re spending more time awake than asleep in your bed, spending 20 minutes in meditation could make a real difference.
Weight loss and meditation
While the process of sitting and meditating is unlikely to burn any calories, the effects of meditation are what makes the difference. Improved cognitive function, better sleep, heightened immune response and reduction in pain and anxiety are just some of the known benefits meditation can offer you.
By integrating this into your daily routine, you could enjoy overall improved health, which will impact your exercise and weight loss regime positively and for the long haul.