How Meditation And Running Help With Depression
“Both meditation and exercise have proven beneficial in the treatment of anxiety, depression and other mood disorders”
Benefits Of Meditation And Running
The benefits of both meditation and running are known to anyone who have practiced either of these activities. Depression is a very debilitating mental illness that is characterized by an inability to stop dwelling on sad thoughts and unhappy memories. In a recently concluded study an interesting effect has been noted with those who practice both running and meditation and the effect of these exercises on depression.
In brain-scan studies, people who are long -term meditators, for instance, generally display different patterns of brain-cell communication in their pre-frontal cortex during cognitive tests than people who don’t meditate. Those differences are believed to indicate that the meditators possess a more honed ability to focus and concentrate.
Meanwhile, according to animal studies, aerobic exercise substantially increases the production of new brain cells in the hippocampus. Both meditation and exercise also have proven beneficial in the treatment of anxiety, depression and other mood disorders.
For the study in question, scientists recruited 52 men and women, 22 of whom had been given diagnoses of depression. The researchers confirmed that diagnosis with their own tests and then asked all of the volunteers to complete a computerized test of their ability to focus while sensors measured electrical signals in their brains.
The researchers found that the depressed volunteers showed signalling patterns in their pre-frontal cortex that are associated with poor concentration and focus. Then the researchers had all of the volunteers begin a fairly rigorous, supervised program of sitting, followed by sweating.
To begin, the volunteers were taught a form of meditation known as focused attention. Essentially entry-level mindfulness meditation, it requires people to sit quietly and think about their respiration by counting their breaths up to 10 and then backward. The volunteers meditated in this manner for 20 minutes, then stood and undertook 10 minutes of walking meditation, in which they paid close attention to each footfall.
Then they exercised on treadmills or stationary bicycles at the lab and jogged or pedalled at a moderate pace for 30 minutes (with live minutes of warming up and five minutes of cooling down). The volunteers completed these sessions twice a week for eight weeks.
Then the researchers retested their moods and their ability to focus and concentrate. There were significant changes. The 22 volunteers with depression now had a 40 per cent reduction in symptoms of the condition. Meanwhile, the members of the healthy control group also reported that they felt happier than they did at the beginning of the study.
Meditation and running are not only useful to those who suffer from depression, it can help everybody. So get those running shoes ready and spread out a yoga mat!