Want to start 2024 with a new workout routine to feel fitter and happier? A new study suggests combining mindfulness with exercise.
The study, published in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity, suggests that life changes which combine both physical activity and mindfulness are most effective at lifting mood and improving health and well-being.
Both physical activity and mindfulness practice have well-established psychological benefits.
However, by reviewing existing research studies, this is one of the first to show how the positive effects can be increased when the two are combined, said researchers at the University of Bath in the UK.
The findings suggest that mindfulness can help to unlock exercise by helping to motivate people to start in the first place, while overcoming minor pain, discomfort or feelings of failure when exercising gets hard.
"Starting 2024 with a resolution to exercise more can have really positive physical and mental health benefits. But we know that starting out can be tough and that it can also be hard to stick with it over time,” said Masha Remskar, an expert in behaviour change, mindfulness and exercise at the University's Department of Health.
Mindfulness is an approach that can help us 'train up' the psychological strengths we need to exercise and be more in tune with our bodies, as well as make exercising more interesting and help us recognise its benefits.
Remskar explained that “becoming more mindful prompts us to think differently about our lifestyle, makes us more accepting and less judgmental of our own shortcomings, which can help to build healthy habits".
"There is a huge potential to use mindfulness to unlock the positive benefits exercise can bring," she noted.
The team now aims to start conducting a larger trial to determine the effectiveness and optimal intervention moments for combining exercise and mindfulness.