Posh meditation studios are popping up on every street – and apps claiming to ‘help find your calm’ are furiously climbing up the app rankings. One can’t help but wonder … what’s the hype all about? Is this a self-care strategy worthwhile looking into? Well, for starters, research highlights that meditation can help you eat healthier, ditch excess weight, reduce anxiety and ease depression, all in one fell swoop. Wait. Aren’t these the same benefits you’d get from working out? (Yes, they are.) Still. That doesn’t mean you should skip one for the other. As it turns out, meditation appears to exert an independent, positive effect on exercise’s effectiveness! Let’s find out how – and why – below.
Promotes a stronger connection to your body
Do you zone out during your workouts: moving through your workout routine on autopilot? If so, you might not be getting the biggest benefit out of your workouts. See, when you're too distracted, you lose that connection to what you're doing – the exercise, muscles you're working, and what you're working toward. Take this 2018 study, for instance. Researchers found that those who'd maintained a high degree of conscious control (i.e. 'mind-muscle connection') over their biceps experienced more significant growth than those who didn't!
But what if maintaining focus during your workout sessions is too much of a challenge for you? Meditation is the solution. It’s like resistance training for your attention span; it helps increase the strength and endurance of your attention.
Ups your pain threshold
At some point during an incredibly tough workout session, nothing is stopping your inner voice from suddenly piping up to say … "You know, you can just stop?" And let's be honest. Given the amount of pain you're likely in, it's all too easy to heed that advice. Which is not a good thing. At all. Because pain is typically an indicative measure of how hard you’re pushing yourself. Just so we’re clear, though: this shouldn't be the 'Omg, I tore something' kind of pain; but, instead, the 'This is tough, I'm so tired and breathless' type of pain.
Can't stand the pain? Meditation can help. According to a 2013 study, the practice can help you tolerate quite a bit more pain than you're used to. Which, imaginably, can make all the difference when you're halfway through your burpee set.
Helps you sleep better
Barely clocking in the required 7 hours of sleep nightly? Well, sleep deprivation is undoubtedly taking a toll on your exercise performance. Your exercise performance declines rapidly after just one night of restricted sleep. According to a 2018 review, researchers found that inadequate sleep can limit the maximal muscle strength you have to perform compound movements during resistance training. That’s because sleep deprivation makes exercise feel harder – causing premature fatigue. The perfect recipe for an ineffective workout session.
By now, you must know the solution to this. Meditation. According to a 2015 study, meditation can be even more effective at helping people sleep than traditional methods, more so than limiting light exposure and alcohol intake at night! More impressively, meditation was as effective as sleep medication is – and also helped improve fatigue in the daytime (which means you’re less likely to skip your sessions!)
Bottom line? Yes, meditation makes exercise more effective
Of course, you can't just depend on meditation to get the most out of your workouts. You also need to take care of your exercise selection, training programming, and dietary choices. Speaking of dietary choices … if you wish to speed up your muscle recovery – so you can turn up for your sessions more frequently, then you'll have to get in more protein. And there's no better way to do that than with Lean Blend’s Protein Water. Light. Smooth. Refreshing. Best of all? No bloating; you won’t even feel like you’re drinking protein.