If your new year resolution is to be fitter, focusing on just physical activity might not be the way forward. A new study shows that combining mindfulness with exercise is key for optimal health.
The study, led by researchers from the University of Bath, revealed that lifestyle habits that focus on both physical and mental health are effective in lifting mood and improving well-being. According to the university’s press statement, this is one of the first studies to highlight the positive effects of combining both exercise and mindfulness.
The findings suggest that mindfulness can help improve the benefits of exercise by motivating people to start while overcoming minor pain, discomfort or feelings of failure when exercising gets hard, the statement explained. Furthermore, analysis of existing studies showed that mindfulness can be highly effective at reducing worry, stress, anxiety, and helping people to live healthier, happier lives. The benefits of mindfulness were observed in people with and without health issues. The study was published in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity.
“Mindfulness is an approach that can help us ‘train up’ the psychological strengths we need to exercise and be more in tune with our bodies, as well as make exercising more interesting and help us recognise its benefits,” study author Masha Remskar said in the statement. Remskar added that becoming more mindful makes people think differently about their lifestyle, and be more accepting and less judgemental of their shortcomings.
One way to practice mindfulness every day is by using apps that can make it easier to access guided courses the researchers suggest. Hence, engaging in mindfulness such as meditating regularly along with regularly exercising could work together to build resilience to challenges and improve health in the new year.
Previous studies have also shown that practising mindfulness can have significant health benefits. For instance, a study published in the journal JAMA Network Open in November showed that practising mindfulness focused on healthy eating can be good for the heart.
As the new study shows, focusing on physical as well as mental health should be a health goal in the new year.