By now, you’ve read about the benefits of both meditation and exercise.
You know they both belong in your daily routine.
What you’re not sure of yet is whether to do meditation before or after a workout.
Truth be told, there are benefits to both, but one of them will do you more good in both the short and long term.
You’re about to find out why.
And with that knowledge, you’ll transform your routines and reach your health and fitness goals more quickly.
Let’s dive in!
When Should Meditation Be Done?
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Should I run or meditate first?” you’re in the right place.
There are benefits to pre-workout meditation. Active meditation like yoga helps by warming up your muscles before a workout. Mindfulness meditation makes you more aware of your body and how it feels.
That said, as you’ll see further on, there are even more benefits to meditation after a workout, thanks to the meditation’s effects on the body, as well as the mind.
Which is Better, Exercise or Meditation?
Your specific goals will likely determine whether you prefer meditation or exercise. But putting them together helps you maximize the best effects of both.
Recalling the benefits of each will help drive this point home:
- Builds muscle and stamina
- Increases blood flow to the brain and improves cognitive function
- Stimulates the production of dopamine and other feel-good hormones
- Calms your body and mind and encourages mindfulness
- Helps balance hormones in your brain and gut
- Helps your body focus on recovery and healing
Should You Meditate Before or After a Workout? 9 Reasons to Meditate After a Workout
While meditation before a workout can help you get your head in the game, the benefits of a post-workout meditation are even more significant.
We’ve found nine reasons to back that up.
1. Less Stress
Excess cortisol in the body increases stress — physical, mental, and emotional — which can adversely affect every organ in your body (including, for men, the prostate gland).
Meditation after exercise lowers cortisol, thereby reducing stress and anxiety, calming your body’s fight-or-flight response, and helping you feel calmer and more relaxed.
2. Less Pain
When your body is under stress, you feel more pain because you’re more sensitive to it.
By lowering stress, meditation helps you feel less pain from the workout and allows your body to focus on recovery and healing. As meditation lowers your blood pressure, the tension leaves your body, making it less sensitive to pain.
3. More Muscle
Excess cortisol breaks down muscle tissue. Since meditation lowers cortisol, it enables your body to focus on muscle recovery and growth, maximizing your strength training benefits.
When your body is under stress, it prioritizes the stress response over other functions, making it harder to recover from muscle tears, inflammation, and respiratory stress.
4. Better “Cool Down”
Meditation after exercise gives your brain (as well as your body) the perfect “cool down” from a strenuous workout, calming away the stress and converting your fight-or-flight response to focused energy and improved mind-body synchronization.
In so doing, it helps you either make the most of the rest of your day or enables you to get a better night’s sleep afterward.
More Related Articles
5. More Growth Hormone
Studies have linked post-workout meditation with an increase in somatotropin, a critical growth hormone that diminishes as you age.
Lower levels of this hormone contribute to bone and muscle weakness, all-over fatigue, and other health issues.
After exercise, meditation can increase growth hormone levels after time, restoring youthfulness and improving overall health.
6. Better Mental and Emotional Health
Neuroimaging studies have also linked post-workout meditation with better emotional regulation and improved stress response.
While those benefits were certainly visible while the participants were meditating, further studies showed long-term benefits to a daily meditation habit.
One of those benefits was a decrease in symptoms of depression.
7. Better Gut Health
Exercise can increase inflammation, but a post-workout meditation can counteract the inflammatory effects and accelerate healing. In doing so, it also benefits your gut microbiome, which is sensitive to inflammation.
A balanced gut is critical to hormone balance and serotonin production, an essential feel-good brain chemical.
8. Faster Weight Loss
By reducing cortisol and aiding in muscle recovery and growth, a post-workout meditation can help you increase your basal metabolic rate, thereby enabling you to burn more fat while at rest.
Stress and anxiety both contribute to weight gain. And since meditation reduces stress and anxiety (by lowering cortisol), it helps you avoid stress-eating and other behaviors that sabotage weight loss.
9. Better Food Choices
Maybe you have a habit of stress-eating after a workout, thereby undoing some or all of the benefits. In that case, a post-exercise meditation can help you curb this impulse and choose healthier foods for your post-workout meal or snack.
Excess cortisol contributes to both binge eating and emotional eating. In reducing cortisol, meditation after exercise helps you avoid both, thereby improving your overall health.
How Do You Meditate After a Workout?
Knowing the benefits of meditation after exercise is an excellent first step. But what will this look like for you?
How will you add meditation as the finishing touch to your workouts?
- End a workout with a gentle, meditative yoga routine.
- End your cool down with at least five minutes of deep, mindful breathing.
- Finish a run with at least a five-minute mindful walking meditation.
You can probably think of other ideas based on your interests and what has worked for you in the past. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and try something new.
Is meditation before or after exercise better for you?
Now you know the benefits of meditating after exercise, how will you apply what you’ve learned to your daily routine? What will you do differently?
If you still prefer to meditate before exercise, we encourage you to try both approaches and see which one does you the most good.
And, if it suits you, there’s nothing wrong with both starting and finishing your exercise with meditation — to prepare for exertion and then to recover from it.
What you do consistently will yield the most benefits.