Exercising Your Mind
‘Health and fitness’ are words that are thrown around everyday and when people are asked how to improve such things they generally think of physical activity and nutrition. There is so much more to health than simply having a good exercise regimen. Studies have shown that exercising your mind is just as important, if not more, in improving your physique and overall well-being. This incorporates a more holistic approach where without a healthy mind the body will also suffer and ultimately a person’s health will be affected in a negative way. There is a lot of evidence showing that exercise will help your mind work more efficiently by increasing level of cognition and enhancing memory (Hillman, C.H. et al., 2008).
Yoga & Meditation
Although physical activity, along with a proper nutrition, is very important in achieving a healthy living standard, the mind also needs to be in the right state. There are a few training methods used to enhance one’s mind such as yoga and meditation. “A growing body of evidence supports the belief that yoga benefits physical and mental health via down-regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathetic nervous system” (Alysson Ross & Sue Thomas, 2010). In fact, studies have shown that yoga and meditation can help one increase his/her immune system, encourage good eating habits, improve flexibility, decrease the level of stress and/or improve how the body deals with stress, and even lower blood pressure.
Yoga and meditation help your body reach a level of relaxation and studies have shown that when your body is in a more relaxed state, it helps activate its natural killers cells which in turn reduces the risk of developing diseases. Individuals who practice yoga and meditation, for the most part, have healthier diets and are more disciplined with what type of food they put in their bodies. There is evidence that athletes who go to yoga tend to perform at a more optimal level in their respective sports and report fewer injuries.
Yoga and meditation are effective ways in fighting stress naturally rather than taking harmful medication that may or may not have various side effects; by decreasing their overall stress levels, they slower their blood pressure and long-term health.
In summary, one cannot and should not rely solely on nutrition and physical activity for overall health, but should also incorporate activities that aid in exercising the mind.
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