Now, you might be thinking, ‘Meditation is about stillness, whilst running is a whole-body workout, so how do these two go together?’
The answer is...breath.
Various studies have shown that both running and meditation help you enter, ‘flow state,’ by taking longer, deeper breaths, than the shorter ones you take in your day to day life. Flow state, coined in 1975 by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is the state which a person enters a fluid state of energized focus, whilst performing an activity. Many professional athletes and musicians try to control this state, in order to maintain peak performance, for long durations of time.
To better understand why these breath-based activities are so beneficial, let’s look at them separately.
As well as being beneficial for your general health, one recent study showed that, ‘men who run or engage in other vigorous forms of exercise fifteen or more hours a week have higher concentrations of sperm and high sperm count than men who don’t.’
But don't start tying your laces just yet!
Recent studies have shown that ‘MIT’ (moderate intensity training) is better for male fertility than ‘HIIT’ (high intensity interval training). So, if you’re an avid runner, you may need to lessen the intensity of your runs.
To learn more about ‘MIT’ exercise, check out our article: How Exercise affects Sperm Count
Runners often talk about the ‘runners high’ they feel after a really good run. This is largely due to the deep, meditative breaths that are taken, which help induce an elated state in the body and mind. However, running is a form of exercise which requires a lot of physical effort and of course won't suit all us guys. Meditation, on the other hand, allows you to be still and focus solely on your breathing, which, in turn, can improve your runs.
Although there isn’t much evidence to show that running aids meditation, various studies have shown that meditation can greatly improve your running performance. This is largely due to the fact that during meditation, your brain releases cortisol, the ‘feel good’ chemical produced in the brain. That combined with the practice of lengthening and controlling your breath, will help you feel more in control of your breaths and connect your daily run to the, ‘feel good’ feeling you got from your morning meditation. Simple!
Now, there are runners who swear by meditating before a run and others who say that afterwards works best. It really is up to you. You could even meditate before and after if you want!
Of course, most of us guys have hectic lives, which means that finding the time to meditate can seem almost impossible...
So, why not try to meditate while you run?
If you’re not sure how to start, don’t worry! YouTube has various guided meditations for runners, ranging from 15 mins to 2 hours, so there’s sure to be one fit your run.
Check out this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6yOWxrAjpg
Hope this helps guys!