If you have trouble sticking to an exercise routine that’s based on getting in shape or losing weight, it might be because your approach to fitness lacks an important element. A mind body fitness routine — in contrast to one that just focuses on just the body — emphasizes the interconnectedness of the physical body and the mind and spirit.
“Nearly any exercise modality can couple mindfulness with physical activity,” writes Ralph La Forge of Duke University Medical Center. “However, mind body exercise incorporates a specific mindful or meditative mindset.” Mindful activity includes a focus on breathing and an inwardly contemplative state.
Some experts believe you can incorporate the mind body philosophy into your existing exercise regimen while others recommend adding activities like meditation, Pilates, yoga and tai chi, which are rooted in these concepts, to achieve the full benefit of this practice.
According to the IDEA Health & Fitness Association, mind-body fitness embodies one or more of the following characteristics:
- Inner mental focus
- Concentration on muscular movements
- Synchronization of movements with breathing patterns
- Attention to form and alignment
- Belief in the “life energy,” such as prana or chi, that comes from ancient Eastern philosophies
The definition of mind body fitness varies, even as its practice becomes more popular, writes Jan Schroeder for the American College of Sports Medicine. “For some individuals, creating a kinesthetic awareness (understanding where your body is in space during movement) is sufficient enough,” Schroeder writes. “However, for others, a spiritual component is important.”
The spiritual element does not necessarily mean practitioners embrace a particular religion, but rather elements of spiritual practice that promote a “higher level of consciousness,” according to Schroeder, who points to yoga, Pilates and Gyrokinesis as some of the many examples. The spiritual benefits of this type of fitness regimen may take some time to achieve.
Practicing mind body fitness comes with an abundance of health benefits. Medical studies have found it can:
- Help with stress reduction
- Improve overall physical health
- Boost your immune system
- Reduce doctor visits
- Prevent injury
Regular massage therapy also contributes to a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle. To book an appointment at the Acupuncture & Massage College’s clinic, call Joe Calareso, Admissions Director, at (305) 595-9500.