Aerobics for the brain praised

2014-06-03 05:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - Fitness experts call it bicep curls for the brain and aerobics for the mind. Whatever the name, athletes and gym addicts are discovering how mindfulness meditation can enliven a workout routine and invigorate a sports performance.

They say that mindfulness meditation, which focuses on the present moment to clear the mind, can help an exerciser overcome boredom and an athlete zero in on the task at hand.

"Mindfulness meditation is a hot topic actively studied in sports medicine," said Gregory Chertok, a sports psychology consultant with the American College of Sports Medicine.

The art of living in the present moment is a critical skill in sports, Chertok said, because all performance occurs in the present and lamenting past failures can lead to muscle tension, anxiety and mental chatter that impairs concentration.

He said recent research indicated that meditation improves attention and sharpens impulse control.

One 2014 study published in the Psychological Science journal showed that 15 minutes of focused-breathing meditation may help athletes and exercisers make smarter choices.

"Among the factors that prevent people from exercising is fear of boredom," said Chertok, who advises clients to use the many meditation apps that are available. "I know a lot of athletes do," he said.

Los Angeles-based yoga teacher Ashley Turner considers the meditation she has practiced for 18 years a workout for her mind and emotions.

"If I don't do it, I notice the change," said Turner, creator of the DVD Element: Yoga for Strength & Flexibility.

A 2011 study by Massachusetts General Hospital researchers indicating that 30 minutes of daily meditation resulted in increased grey matter in the hippocampus, an area of the brain associated with memory and learning, and a reduction in the amygdala, a region connected to anxiety and stress.

Each breath

"If you think you have no time to meditate, how much time do you spend worrying?" she said.

Newcomers should start slowly, said Turner, whose online Meditation 101 conference last month drew more than 25 000 people.

"Begin by just following your breath, rather than by trying to meditate," she said. "Then add one minute every week until you reach 20 or 30 minutes."

American Council on Exercise fitness consultant Jessica Matthews said while exercise helps to reduce stress, trying to find the time to work out can cause it.

"Personally, meditation and pranayama [yogic breathing techniques] were instrumental in my success of preparing for and completing my first half marathon last year," she said.

Matthews teaches meditation in her health classes at Miramar College in San Diego, where many students employ the techniques before a game.

She advises them to focus on each breath and when the mind drifts, to draw awareness back.

"Meditation is not just for the yogi on the mountaintop," she said.

Read more on:    us  |  health

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.