We know, you only have so many hours in the day. Every morning you wake up to news articles about how this, that, and the other thing can improve your health or productivity. Try this new food, or that new superfood, or this antioxidant, or that vitamin and everything about your life will improve. It can be tough to sort through this conflicting information. So what’s the most important thing? You can’t follow all of the expert advice. Are you better off spending twenty minutes exercising or twenty minutes working out?
The benefits of both exercise and meditation are well documented. Amazingly, both have reported physical, emotional, and mental health benefits.
Exercise has well known physical benefits, but it has great mental and emotional benefits as well. Regular exercise can help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise release endorphins which are hormones that make you feel good with an effect similar to that of opioids.
Meditation can help with anxiety and depression symptoms as well. It does this by helping the brain learn to respond differently to stress and anxiety. Meditation recommendations and techniques may differ, but it is a commitment to ongoing meditative practice that helps offer these benefits, essentially retraining your brain to focus when negative feelings and mindsets occur.
Beyond the emotional and mental benefits, meditation may offer physical benefits to those who practice as well. There is some evidence that meditation can help people manage chronic pain. Meditation has been shown to help with heart disease and high blood pressure. It has also been shown to help with sleep issues and insomnia. These surprising physical health benefits of meditation show why it is gaining in popularity as an important part of any good wellness routine.
Exercise, however, has some very tough to beat physical health benefits. It can help you manage your weight and will also lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Like meditation, it can offer help with lowering blood pressure and also other cardiovascular issues like reducing heart attack risk. Regular exercise can also help strengthen your bones and to help fight the effects of osteoporosis. And of course, the physical benefits of exercise don’t end there. Most people simply feel better with regular exercise.
So when it comes to an either-or situation with meditation versus exercise, which one comes out on top? Well, because of the physical health benefits, the answer has to be exercise. It offers many of the same benefits as meditation and more besides. However, we have to make a plea for any wellness regime to include both regular physical exercise and meditation. Many people find they can work regular meditation into their routines by practicing it in small increments. Even five-minute meditation breaks can help!