We focus a lot on physical exercise that helps us to stay fit, healthy and assists us in losing weight, but that is not the only way it can be beneficial. In fact, some exercises, in particular, can have a very helpful effect on mood and mental health as well. To find out more about this, keep reading.
Yoga is a form of exercise that is based on the ancient teaching of eastern culture. It was originally designed to improve the condition of the body to such a level whereby meditative states would be easier to achieve. Meaning we can already see that there is a mind – body link here.
These days some people like to attend a regular yoga exercises class with meditation at the end. Although some use yoga as a form of embodied meditation on its own. It works well for this because moving the body, holding poses, known an asana, and focusing on the breath not only develop balance, flexibility, and strength physically, but it also helps to develop that sense of stillness where they are able to observe the working of their own mind. Something that makes yoga a great double whammy for mind and body improvement.
Next, up is running. Something that has many physical benefits. In fact, it’s known to be one of the best exercises for improving and maintaining physical fitness, and burning off excess calories. Although something that perhaps isn’t discussed as much is the mental benefits of running.
Of course, doing any aerobic physical activity causes endorphins to be released in the brain. These make it easier to regulate your mood and stay happy, but there are other mental benefits to running as well. One is that, particularly, in the beginning, it can be a real challenge. One that you need to work hard at and dedicate yourself to overcome. Gradually building up your stamina from running around the block up to 5k, 10K and beyond. It is also an activity that is primarily done outdoors, giving the participant addition access to sunlight and fresh air, two things which are also known to have a positive quality of our mental health.
Lastly, for many people, it can also be a meditative activity as well. This is because there is a definite focus on the breath and the sensation in the body. As well as the opportunity to enter a flow state, something that can be very peaceful and rewarding mentally.
Lastly, dancing is also another activity that can be helpful for both body and mind. Obviously, moving your body burns calories, and many dance moves require strength and flexibility too so they will be building muscle as well.
In terms of mental improvements, dance scores well too. As many people use dance as a cathartic process, working out any complex or negative emotions to the point where their feelings become much easier to deal with. In fact, there are even some specific classes that are designed to do just this such as 5Rhythms.
So, if you are looking to improve both your mind and your body, then you can definitely benefit from one or all of the activities listed above. As they all count as mind-body double whammies!