Depression is one of the leading health complaints in the developing world and is characterized in part by an inability to stop dwelling on negative thoughts and memories. But feeling anxious and stressed is something we can all relate to when trying to keep up with our frantic world mobilizing at a speed that is beginning to outstretch our sensibilities.
Aerobic exercise and meditation has garnered increasing attention in the last decade as an effective therapy for anxiety, depression and other mood disorders. The latest studies show that combining both mental and physical training could affect human brain in ways that are more beneficial than practicing either of those activities alone.
Scientists believe that the two areas of the brain involved in ruminative thinking: the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus are strongly influenced by meditation and exercise although in different ways. So while aerobic exercise stimulates production of new neurons in the brain, meditation may help to keep a significant number of those cells alive and functioning.
So whenever you’re feeling a little but gloomy or overwhelmed why not try some mindfulness and go for a jog around the park?
As little as 20 minutes of mindfulness (focusing on a breath) meditation combined with 30 mins of aerobic exercise such as jog, cycle or swim performed twice weekly for a duration of eight weeks showed a decrease in ruminative thoughts, anxiety, and an overall improvement in motivation. Additionally, some studies indicate that being mindful of your breathing and your body during exercising increases people’s enjoyment of the exertion.
In my clinical practise I can see an increasing number of patients reporting symptoms of depression and stress and those can manifest in physical symptoms such as chronic pain, headaches, digestive issues, sleeping disorders among others. From my own experience I understand the value meditation and physical activity has on our mental health and therefore each osteopathic treatment plan that I carry for my patients combines a variety of breathing practise (mindfulness) and physical activity (walking, joggging etc) and alongside osteopathic treatment can give positive (promising) results.
If you would like to get a glimpse of how combining physical and mental training benefits our mental health (or just to get a break from a daily humdrum), come join me on a trail running and mindfulness retreat I am hosting in Sweden in September.
For more details please visit the website http://www.gloretreats.com/events/sweden/.