Why I Do It

Because I want to do the best I can to protect and improve the lives of my patients.

When I had the chance to review the research on the benefits and drawbacks of meditation and exercise on the human brain, it was amazing how the connection I found between exercise and brain function was so strong. During my lectures I have mentioned that one of the best parts of meditation is that the practice creates connections between the various parts of the brain; connecting to more than just mind. This was confirmed through several studies that revealed that meditation improved your brain’s function over a four month period. One particular study indicated improvement in your abilities to make decisions after 30 minutes of meditation on a computer or computerized board game. Another study reported that 40 days of practicing Yoga helped improve performance at a standardized task. Meditation is so powerful because it creates a connection between the five senses, how you treat yourself, your stress levels, and much more.

I’m sure you have heard all of the problems with working out when doing cardio and weight training, and when you do cardio and weight training you feel like you are running a treadmill. I’d like to offer you some research that will provide you with some interesting solutions.

In an article published in The Journal of Applied Physiology in 2001, researchers at Oregon Health & Science University (UOHSU), researchers from Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU), and researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio were analyzing and examining the differences in the functioning of the brain in people who exercised versus those who did not. In a study examining 30 individuals over age 22 on a treadmill, the researchers determined that a group that did one hour (or 30 minutes per week, or 6 days per week) of aerobic exercise had a greater increase in overall brain function than a group that did 60 minutes a week of weight training.

Another study published in The Journal of Neuroscience found that exercise caused structural changes in the brain in the same individuals. The study involved nine participants as they were put into an MRI machine. During the imaging process, the researchers found that those individuals who exercised had significantly greater brain volume in the frontal and temporal regions.

Brain scanning research published in a number of articles from the UOHSU, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Mayo Clinic, National Institutes of Health, Harvard University, Stanford University, the National Institute on Aging, and others have indicated that a strong connection exists between exercise and improved brain function.

I’ll close this post by mentioning what I consider to be the most common mistakes that people make when they’re learning how to meditate and exercise. I think that these common misconceptions will help you become a better meditator or exerciser, and we can be sure that if you use these tips to correct these mistakes that you will be much closer to achieving these goals.

1. “Well, I’m not a runner, I’m at the gym”

Don’t listen to your ego. I’m sure a lot of you are running already and are saying to yourself that you won’t make a full recovery until you run a marathon or two… or three, or even four. I don’t blame you. I think it is awesome. It’s an accomplishment. Everyone enjoys running. But when we find that we are having problems when we are exercising, it can be hard to accept that you are hurting your physical or emotional health.

First, realize that there is a fine line between being physically and emotionally healthy during an exercise session. Too much in the wrong direction on either side can lead to injury or burnout. You can’t do both at the same time. If you are not being physically healthy and you are experiencing negative emotions after exercise, it is not a health, fitness or meditation issue. It is a mental health problem.

2. “I’ve always been the same size when I was growing up, and then as an adult I got so fat.”

I can’t emphasize this too strongly. Having a low body fat percentage does not give you the right to complain.