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Science Says Moderate Exercise Can Prevent Depression

Science Says Moderate Exercise Can Prevent Depression

Depression is an illness that affects the mind and body. It is not your ordinary feeling of sadness or emptiness. At its worst, depression has the power to destroy you while playing with your thoughts and emotions.

When you’re in a depressed state, everything just feels “wrong”. From the moment you wake up to the time you go to sleep. You see the world in a darker shade – where rainbows don’t exist and bright days seem to pass by quickly.

If you have a loved one suffering from depression, it can be just as emotionally painful to see them destroy themselves each day. And if you could just transfer your energy and your happiness to them, you would do so in a heartbeat.

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Working Out for Good Mental Health

study on the effects of moderate physical activity has been found to combat the damaging effects of depression. The research conducted at the University of Toronto found that moderate exercise has long-term effects on preventing and curing depression.

Inspired by mental health experts who are worried about costly prescription medications and its side effects, the study was focused on the preventive ability of exercise to fend off depression.

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Aside from muscle size, abs, and a healthy heart – exercise proves to have positive effects on one’s mental health. Part of the symptoms of depression is fatigue and mental exhaustion. This causes the person to feel tired even after a good night’s sleep. A depressed person will also likely to stay at home and avoid any activity that will require their energy. With proper guidance, continuous support and care, it isn’t possible to get them to like exercise and help them cultivate a healthier and more active lifestyle.

Moderate Exercise for Treating Anxiety

Anxiety and depression are two different conditions which on many occasions can occur together on an individual. One of the causes of anxiety is tension and stress. It is a normal response to stressful situations. Exercises help relieve these feelings of tension and pressure, by giving you a healthy release of endorphins.

Physical activity helps you shift your focus on your body. It gives you temporary mindfulness as you run, feel the wind in your hair, your aching legs and your breath. Experts believe that any activity that releases stress helps you avoid worries and matters of the mind.

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Moderate Exercise for Boosting the Brain

Depression can shut down the brain’s ability to adapt to new situations.  It limits the production of essential brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin that foster brain cell communication.

This is the reason why depressed people seem to make poor life choices. They also withdraw themselves from any kind of new social interaction or activity, because they don’t know how to adapt to these changes.

Exercise counters this by boosting the production of a protein called BDNF that helps neurotransmitters from functioning effectively. BDNF also stimulates growth and creation of brain cells which helps improve memory.

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Exercise Fights Fatigue and Gives You Energy

When you’re feeling sluggish, and tired – all you want to do is lie on the couch and hide under the covers all day. But experts say the common fatigue we often experience is not caused by simple exhaustion, but our bodies’ resistance to sedentary activities.

It’s your body’s way of telling you that you need to go out and get moving. When you start moving, your body will want to move more, and the more you move, the more energy you’ll have.  More running and moving can help increase your heart rate and energy.

Just like how food gives you energy. Exercise gives you your body’s needed energy boost to help you last throughout the day. Now you can work for 8 hours without feeling fatigued, digest dietary fats better, and have a more productive work day.

Exercise as a Coping Technique

Exercise is a great way to help you cope with challenges in life. Instead of resorting to bad vices like drugs, alcohol and activities that have damaging effects on your body, exercise helps you feel good about yourself. It also fosters self-love and the feeling that you’re doing something good for your body.

Exercise has many wondrous effects on our body.  In fact, many of the illnesses and conditions we have today can be prevented and improved through physical activity. The best thing about exercise is anyone can do it – your age, ethnicity, or size don’t matter at all. This means we can all take small steps to become happy and healthy.

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Armela Escalona

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Last Updated on August 13, 2020

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

2. What is the purpose of meditation?

The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

Less Physical, More Psychological

Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

The First Benefit of Meditation

The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

  1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
  2. Relaxation of the body

Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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This benefit takes you to the second one.

The Second Benefit of Meditation

While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

  1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
  2. Observance
  3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
  4. Patience

Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

1. Energy

Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

2. Observance

The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

3. Peacefulness

Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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4. Patience

The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

  • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
  • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
  • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
  • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
  • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
  • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

Final Thoughts

Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

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Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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