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Meditation or exercise: What’s better for your mental health?

Published on:24 August 2020, 13:35pm IST
We know that both meditation and working out have a plethora of mental health benefits. But if you had to choose one--what would you place your bets on?
Nikita Bhardwaj
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Does meditation really have that magical touch? Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Meditation is important to carve a healthy mindset. But turns out, physical exercise can also do the same. So if you have to fit into your busy schedule for the sake of your mental health, what would you choose? 

Now that’s a tricky question to be confronted with. It truly makes one wonder what the right route to good mental health is. Is it meditation or physical workout? 

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Seems like we need an expert’s intervention to unravel this mystery.

Can physical exercise affect our mental health?
The answer is that it definitely can. There are a number of studies that prove that exercising helps in boosting our mood as it helps in the secretion of serotonin (the happy hormone) in our body. Of course, when we see positive results in ourselves, it brings about a sense of achievement and builds our confidence as well.

“There are many cases where we see that concerning oneself with physical fitness has helped some people come out of severe mental health illnesses like anxiety and depression. Plus, it improves blood circulation and keeps physical ailments in check which also puts less burden on your mental well-being”, says Tabassum Sheikh, a clinical psychologist from Apollo TeleHealth.

How does meditation affect our brain?
If you’ve been feeling stressed and worn out, then meditation is what you need. While including exercise in your routine is helpful, one can’t deny that there are days when you just end up snoozing that alarm and going back to sleep. This mostly happens because you are mentally and physically exhausted. 

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In such a case, even if you try to exercise, you don’t end up achieving the results you want because you’re not focused enough. If you don’t have a happy mind, even the most effective exercises won’t impact your body the way they should. 

Hence, meditation can be your guiding light. Endorphins also play a role here. They help you boost your mood and keep you calm.  

“One can surely be more inclined towards mindfulness-based meditation programs which have been very useful to target stress reduction, depression, anxiety, and calmness. But, if you are looking at weight loss, then meditation won’t be helpful. Having said that, meditation might help you feel energized because of which you’ll feel like indulging in daily workout sessions”, she explained.

In fact, a 2018 study says that if you start practising meditation early in your life, your cognitive health stays intact, you won’t experience memory loss, and you have lower chances of getting Alzheimer’s.

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And we have a clear winner
Yes, it is difficult to meditate but when it comes to your mental well-being, but mediation is a clear winner. Basically, when you won’t be able to achieve results from physical exercise, there are higher chances that you call it a quits due to frustration. However, that’s when meditation will help you hold on to your calm.

Once meditation starts showing its effect, you can include it into your routine just like physical exercise! Trust us, it’s an unbeatable combo. With a calm mind and a healthy body, you can actually be invincible.   

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Nikita Bhardwaj Nikita Bhardwaj

Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content.