There’s enough research to prove that meditation has remarkable psychological and emotional benefits, and exercise also boosts our physical and mental strength. They’re part of a balanced morning routine and help us start our day on the right foot. But what should come first – meditation or workout?
It’s for you to decide whether to meditate before or after workout. Meditating before exercising centers your mind and increases your focus during your workout session. Whereas meditation after workout reduces stress and pain and promotes faster recovery. There’s no hard-and-fast rule, so you can choose whichever approach you find more convenient and useful.
But how do meditation and exercise work together to enhance our well-being? What’s the difference between meditating before or after workout, and how do you choose what’s best for you? Read on to learn more about how meditation and working out go hand-in-hand
How meditation and exercise complement each other
Both meditation and exercise enhance our physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. A combination of these two gives us the best of both worlds. Physical exercise and meditation complement each other, and we can implement them in our daily routine to build a healthier and more disciplined life.
Meditation is an ancient practice in which we focus our attention on a single object to experience inner peace and clarity. It calms the mind and offers many other benefits, such as enhanced emotional intelligence, increased immunity, and better cognitive function. We also develop qualities like discipline and patience with regular meditation practice.
While meditation cares for the mind, physical exercise cares for our body. We need to move and exercise the body to keep it healthy and fit. Working out not only keeps the body strong, but it also boosts confidence, improves our mood, and energizes us.
As you can see, meditation and exercise are an essential part of a healthy morning routine. Meditating before workout improves your exercise and working out before meditating enhances your mindfulness practice.
Let’s discuss the effects of meditating before and after workout. These considerations will help you determine what’s best for you.
The case for meditating before exercise
Meditation increases our focus and makes us mindful. As soon as we finish our meditation session, we feel a sense of serenity and are more present to life instead of just living in our head.
This calmness can be used to make our workout more effective. By meditating before workout, we build focus and attention so that we can exercise mindfully.
Many experts recommend meditating first thing in the morning as the mind is calm and relaxed in the early morning. We can take advantage of this natural tranquility by meditating. It’ll allow us to go into deeper states of meditation with ease.
We’re also likely to keep that post-meditation serenity and composure for the rest of the day if we start by meditating first thing in the morning.
The case for meditating after exercise
Just like meditating before workout, meditating after workout also has its benefits. It complements your workout and helps double up the results.
Exercise, even though it’s ultimately beneficial, puts the body through a lot of stress. Meditation is an excellent way to counter this stress as it reduces cortisol in the body. It triggers the relaxation response, returning heart rate, blood pressure, and other hormones to normal levels.
Research shows that meditation also helps us control pain by signaling the brain to release endorphins. So that could be another reason to meditate after working out. It can reduce the feelings of pain and stiffness that your workout may leave you with.
With reduced cortisol levels and decreased pain, your body will be able to focus on a crucial part of the workout cycle: recovery. All the positive effects of exercise come from this recovery. Meditation helps your body relax and recover immediately after a workout.
Stretching and exercising also help you settle down when you sit to meditate. Correct stretching improves your posture and increases your meditation stamina, allowing you to meditate for longer periods.
Some people have also noticed that exercise improves the quality of their session. They find that they can concentrate better when they sit down to meditate after a session of Yoga or physical exercise.
Choosing what works for you
As we’ve already said, you’ll need to decide for yourself whether you should meditate before or after exercise. Let me tell you a few things you should consider when experimenting with it.
Complete your workout, sit down to meditate, and notice how you feel during the session. Are you able to concentrate better now that your body is relaxing? Or does the built-up energy distract you?
Some people find that meditating after working out helps them notice the breath more fully. It may help them relax more and meditate deeper, while others may feel too hyper and get distracted by the irregularity of their breath.
Also, try meditating before you exercise and see if you’re able to maintain awareness and not feel tired or sleepy. Then, when you exercise, notice how the increased mindfulness and peace of mind affects your workout session.
You might have to try it for more than a day to conclude what’s best for you. In this way, you’ll be able to decide for yourself if you should meditate first or exercise.
Meditating the right way
Meditation doesn’t have to take an hour. You can start with 10 minutes a day and build from there. If you have a little more time, you can even meditate twice: once right after getting up and again after your workout for double benefits!
Here’s how you can get started with meditation spending only 10-20 minutes a day:
- Set a timer on your phone for 5, 10, or 15 minutes.
- Sit with your back straight, preferably cross-legged. But you can also sit on a chair if sitting on the ground isn’t feasible. Just make sure your spine is upright.
- Close your eyes and relax your facial muscles. Make sure you’re not straining any part of your body.
- Put your hands in your lap, one over the other with palms facing upward. Ideally, the tips of your thumbs should touch each other and make a circle.
- Inhale gently and deeply from your belly and exhale. Repeat this deep breathing a few times to settle down.
- Now, focus your attention on your breath. Notice the sensations caused by your breath in your nostrils or be aware of the rising and falling of your belly.
- When your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your object of meditation. In the beginning, you’ll probably end up thinking 90% of the time and meditate hardly for a minute. That’s perfectly fine.
Here, I’ve outlined the basics of mindfulness meditation. If you want to read my full-length post on how to get started with meditation, read this article: Mindfulness Meditation: Everything You Need to Know.
Meditation and morning routine
Apart from physical exercise and meditation, showers, breakfast, and coffee are also part of most people’s morning routines. I’ve written a few blog posts discussing the place of meditation in our morning ritual, and how you can fit meditation into your daily routine.
Here are some of these articles you should check out:
- Should You Meditate Before or After Drinking Coffee?
- How Many Times a Day Should You Meditate?
- Should You Meditate Before or After Shower?
- Should You Meditate After Eating?
Combining meditation with Yoga or Exercise is a wonderful way to care for ourselves. Expect an overall development in your physical, mental, and emotional states by incorporating meditation and working out into your daily routine.
You can experiment meditating before and after workout, and then choose the approach you find more convenient.
I hope this article gave you some pointers to decide how to schedule your morning routine.
Good luck and happy meditating! 😊