Mindfulness and exercise.
These two unassumingly related activities share the same impetus: a drive dedicated to improving and bettering the self.
If part of your mindfulness and exercising journey is to improve your mental health, you can actually combine the two for maximum benefits.
A 2016 study following 52 individuals in an eight-week mental and physical (MAP) training program has found pairing meditation and exercise reduces depression and increases brain activity.
Researchers chose focused-attention (FA) meditation as the mental training component for this project and aerobic for the physical component. FA meditation was chosen “as it requires significant mental effort,” and aerobic exercise as its beneficial for brain function and positive for overall physical and mental health.
The majority of studied individuals struggled with major depressive disorder (MDD), a debilitating condition that affects mood and cognitive ability.
The 52 participants followed two sessions of 30-minute FA meditation and 30-minute aerobic exercise intervals per week throughout the study’s duration.
In just eight weeks, the effects of this treatment were “robust, with nearly a 40% reduction in depressive symptoms… and a significant decrease in self-reported ruminative thoughts which typically involve repetitive thinking about autobiographical memories and negative content from the past.”
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References: Alderman, Brandon L., et al. “MAP training: combining meditation and aerobic exercise reduces depression and rumination while enhancing synchronized brain activity.” Translational psychiatry 6.2 (2016): e726.