Updated: Mar 4
A commonly referenced ideal within the fitness world is the different subdivisions of exercise. Among these subdivisions are cardiovascular or aerobic exercise, resistance training, and flexibility. The fourth, less referenced, pillar of wellness is known as mind-body vitality. You’ve likely heard the term before, but what exactly does it mean and how can you implement it into your own wellness and health goals? The concept of mind-body vitality is an integration of physical activity and mental discipline.
If you’ve ever participated in a Yoga, Pilates, or Tai Chi class, you may already be familiar with this mind-to-muscle connection. Effectively integrating this connection into physical activity requires an inward mental focus. This mental focus can often be accomplished by finding a meditative or state of mindfulness during exercise. Finding this mental state is also related to the practice of kinesthesis or the study of the body’s motions and one’s perception of self-awareness of these motions.
How do these biological changes actually occur?
Regular engagement in mind-body practices aid in an increase the availability of neurotransmitters in your brain which leads to an improvement in efficiency in your brain. By accomplishing this, brain power is “boosted”. When it comes to stress levels, meditative-exercise practices increase overall energy while simultaneously lowering tension in the body. This is important because fewer stress hormones are released, such as cortisol, and blood pressure will lower from a stress-elevated state. With fewer stress hormones released, the presence of “happy hormones” associated with exercise are no longer inhibited. Regular practice increases levels of endorphins, which not only reduce stress but improve quality of sleep.
Why should I consider adding this mind-body practice into my daily routine?
In recent years, a large sum of research has been funded and published regarding the benefits of mind-body vitality related practices for general health. Research suggests that this self-body awareness during exercise can lower stress levels, improve mood, increase quality of sleep and help the brain function more efficiently. In addition, regular practice in this discipline of wellness has been shown to lower blood pressure and decrease pain levels. Within your body, these changes can occur within two or three mind-body practices.
How can I start integrating this practice into my wellness routine?
An easy way to start is to work on mindfulness. This can be as simple as working on being in the present moment during a lunch-time walk or trying out a yoga class. As discussed earlier, breath awareness can be a great way to start pairing the mind and body. Pay more attention to your breath control during your next resistance-training session. If you have no experience with these practices, meditation is an effective way to begin working on mental discipline. Get involved in the independent meditation sessions offered at both facilities or try a free guided meditation video online. Whatever your current fitness routine may be, adding in mind-vitality exercises is a great option to reduce stress and improve the mind-muscle connection.