Benefits of Exercise and Meditation for Mental Health

mountains medidation
Photo by Matteo Di Iorio

The key to long-term recovery is to improve one’s physical and mental health. For many who are in recovery from drug addiction and mental health issues, exercise and meditation can provide a useful tool in helping people regain balance to the body, mind, and soul. The combination of exercise and meditation strengthens the body while allowing people to increase their awareness, self-confidence, and self-esteem. The following article explores the benefits of exercise and meditation for mental health.

Exercise and Meditation Reduces Stress

working against the clock stress
Photo by Kevin Ku

Perhaps the best benefit of exercise and meditation is both help people reduce their stress. Physical exercise releases neurotransmitters such as dopamine and endorphins throughout the brain. These neurotransmitters produce a profound sense of calm and help people feel at peace and happy. Additionally, exercise allows people to focus on the movements and mechanics of exercise and not the source of their stress.

Meditation provides similar effects. Whether it is through focused breathing exercises or more advanced techniques, meditation allows people to find peace and focus on what they can do in the present. When recovering addicts encounter stressors in their daily life, they can use meditation to observe the roots of their thoughts and desires. Once they are explored, people can realize they don’t have to act on them and can let them go.

Exercise and Meditation Helps Increase Energy

energetic jump
Photo by Alexei Scutari

A big challenge of recovery is being motivated and having the energy to work a program of recovery on a day to day basis. Both exercise and mediation can help newly recovering addicts increase their energy levels while feeling great about their bodies and recovery. Exercise helps increase the oxygen content in the blood. As a result, people feel more energized and positive. Likewise, meditation helps clear the mind and provides emotional balance.

Exercise and Mediation Promotes Better Sleep

sleeping woman
Sleeping on the sides can be stressful for the body.

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential in preserving one’s mental health. Restful sleep resets the mind and keeps people on an even keel in the face of daily stressors. Exercise and meditation are useful tools in helping people get the sleep they need each night to function at their best. When people engage in exercise, it promotes a pronounced heating and cooling cycle in the body. When the body cools down, it improves sleep and decreases the effects of depression, stress, and other factors, which can lead to insomnia.

Meditation helps bring forth a relaxation response that helps calm people and bring their awareness to the present. When the relaxation response is activated, it decreases stress and feelings of pain. Like exercise, meditation can reduce the instances of sleep disorders, which are common in those who have mental illness.

Exercise and Meditation Promotes NeurogenesisDendritic Nerve Cells

It is no secret that chronic substance abuse alters brain chemistry and destroys brain cells. Both exercise and meditation can help create a phenomenon call neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is the process where new neurons are created in the brain. This helps to increase blood flow and activity in the brain. As a result, the powerful combination of exercise and meditation can significantly boost one’s mood consistently over time. This effect can help negate the devastating effects of mental illness.

A Powerful Combination

There is no doubt that exercise and meditation create a synergistic effect that promotes mental stability. When looking for a drug treatment program, they must include proven programs that feature exercise and meditative training and practice. These programs need to be facilitated by experienced staff who can create programs that fit each client’s unique and specific needs. For people struggling with mental health problems, the combination of exercise and meditation is a potent and winning combination.