How meditation can help you reach your fitness goals

How meditation can help you reach your fitness goals

It is well reported that meditation is great for wellbeing and mental health, but did you know that it has the potential to positively impact your fitness journey? Research suggests that there are multiple ways in which mediation practices can support you in reaching your fitness goals, whether they are performance or physique related. Whilst training and diet are important for accomplishing fitness goals, mediation can be used alongside working out and nutrition to assist and improve the journey to your set goals.

Reducing Stress

Practising meditation not only can help reduce stress mentally but also physically. There are multiple physiological signs of stress such as heightened blood pressure and increased heart rate, that mediation can reverse. The reduction in these physical stress symptoms can also promote better sleep which will have an impact on reaching health and fitness goals.

Overeating and stress are commonly linked, with individuals more likely to increase their food consumption when stressed. Not only this, the type of food eaten is more likely to be foods higher in fat than the food chosen by individuals when not stressed. Furthermore, increased stress, leading to worse sleep quality is also known to increase hunger and appetite leading to overeating.

There are many physiological signs of stress that can have an impact on the body which are associated with obesity and being overweight. Meaning that both mental and physiological stress can make weight loss a challenge. However, mediation and other meditative practices have been shown to down-regulate both physical and mental stress symptoms, making it easier to lose weight and make food choices that align with weight loss goals.

For those with performance goals, reduction in anxiety, overthinking, and increased concentration levels, caused by long-term meditation practice can improve athletic performance. Not only this, meditation can improve physiological stress symptoms such as, reducing breathing rate and lowering heart rate, leading to improved performance.

Daily Meditation practice will help you with both mental and physical relaxation, and they don’t have to take up much time. WithU has Meditation sessions as short as 6 minutes so are incredibly easy to fit into even the busiest days. We recommend trying our Calming Meditation and to help with sleep, our incredibly popular Pre Bed mediation.

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Reaching Goals

We are often advised to set goals in order to see progress and increase motivation, but it can be hard to always make the right choices that take us closer to reaching these goals. With constant distractions from the world around us, it’s easy to slip out of good habits that lead us in the right direction. Research has shown that meditative practices like mindfulness can help with adherence to activities and choices that align with our goals. By becoming aware and connected to our true motives using mindfulness and introspection through meditation, we can align more deeply with our goals. This leads to increased motivation and an ability to move through life making the choices that help us reach these goals.

Mindfulness around goal setting can be hard, but introspection through meditation can help us connect deeper with our motives helping us align with our set goals. We recommend trying our Inner Knowledge meditation to help you increase awareness of your thoughts and emotions.

Visualisation

Visualisation meditation practices are common and popular for performers of all kinds. Many professional athletes have spoken about how they use visualisation to prepare themselves for competition. Many will visualise themselves winning a race, scoring a goal or performing well in general. 23-time gold medal Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps used visualisation to help prepare for his races. Having visualised a race nearly 100 times before he came to the actual event, he felt prepared.

Research into weightlifters has shown that athletes who positively visualised themselves lifting heavier weights saw a significant increase in the weight that they were able to lift. In general, athletes who incorporated visualisation meditative practices into their training regime were more successful than those who did not.

Visualisation can help with both performance and physique goals, whether you are imagining yourself performing movements during a workout in the gym successfully or visualising yourself and how you would feel when you reach your physique goal. WithU’s guided meditations can support you with visualising, with specific guided visualisation sessions we can help you achieve your goals. We recommend the Visualise session and for more advanced meditators, Performance Preparation.

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Connection of brain and body

One goal of meditation is to improve the connection between the brain and body. It can be challenging to reach fitness and physique goals when your mind and body are not aligned. Feeling at one with your mind and body can sound a little hippie but being connected to your body can help with understanding what it needs. For example, fueling yourself well for performance. Being mentally connected to your body will also help with understanding how it moves, for example, ensuring correct form and any improving movement during exercise.

A further connection between brain and body will assist with visualisation practice, making it more successful. Lastly, an increased alignment of the brain and body will help keep any goals at the forefront of the mind, assisting with making choices and creating habits that support reaching these goals.

England football star Raheem Sterling shared that he regularly practices meditation in order to stay connected to his body and brain. He suggests that it helps him remain calm and relaxed and it ensures he performs at his best.

Regular meditation practice can support brain and body alignment. Our Body Scan meditation allows you to check in with yourself and reconnect to your body.

We highly recommend trying out some of WithU’s meditation sessions to help you reach your fitness goals. Whilst mediation won’t magically help you change your physique or improve performance, it is an amazing tool to support good nutrition and training.

Sources:

Colzato, L.S., Kibele, A. (2017) How Different Types of Meditation Can Enhance Athletic Performance Depending on the Specific Sports Skills. J Cogn Enhanc 1, 122–126. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41465-017-0018-3

Harvard Health. (2020, July 7). Exercising to relax. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax

Hynes, Janette & Turner, Zach. (2020). Positive Visualization and Its Effects on Strength Training. Impulse.

Koithan M. (2009). Mind-Body Solutions for Obesity. The journal for nurse practitioners: JNP, 5(7), 536–537. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nurpra.2009.05.012

Parnabas, V. et al. (2014) The Relationship Between Relaxation Techniques and Sports Performance. Universal Journal of Psychology 2(3), 108-112. DOI: 10.13189/ujp.2014.020302

Strick, M., & Papies, E. K. (2017). A Brief Mindfulness Exercise Promotes the Correspondence Between the Implicit Affiliation Motive and Goal Setting. Personality & social psychology bulletin, 43(5), 623–637. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167217693611