Meditation and exercise share many similarities, and you should always aim to integrate both practices.
And when it comes to doing it daily, meditation will be the habit you’ll want to stick to on a day-to-day basis. With exercise, you can get away with exercising 3 to 5 times a week, and reap amazing results. More so, when combined with meditation.
Both getting into exercise or meditation can be hard for a beginner, but meditation has, perhaps, a lower barrier to entry. Something which I’ll discuss later.
Should You Start With Meditation or Exercise?
Nothing prevents you from starting both at the same time. In fact, it’s recommended, but if you manage to adopt either of the habits, the other one is gonna follow through pretty easily.
Both meditation and exercise require consistent practice, sometimes doing the same thing over and over again to level up.
But I’m sure we can all agree that it’s better to level up your real-life character than a video game character. Both can live longer and healthier lives that put you far ahead of yourself had you not picked up these two powerful habits.
If starting both at the same time is hard, and you only can adopt one habit at a time, stick with meditation, as it will provide a great framework to build into the habit of exercise later on. Now, that’s my personal experience, you can’t really go wrong with any order.
Both Require Discipline
It’s no secret that both meditation and exercise require some degree of discipline on a consistent basis.
Fortunately, meditation does help you build the mental strength you’ll require when it gets tough. At some point, you’ll run out of motivation and you’ll need the discipline to fall back on.
You can’t always be motivated but you can always be disciplined, that’s your choice and it’s often the hardest choice to make since you’re fighting a battle with no one but yourself.
It’s on you if you make progress or not, but one could argue what your end goal is could make it easier or harder to have discipline. But in general, if you have a strong enough vision, building discipline will often be easier with meditation.
Even exercise in itself builds discipline sense it’s like a muscle you train, but with meditation, you dive deeper into your mind and are able to detach any expectation from the end result, and since the expectation is absent, so is any disappointment that comes with not achieving a certain goal within a certain timeframe.
Many set a time-specific goal of what they’re gonna achieve, which is fine, but can also be risky. I believe it’s better to enjoy the process and the now, and you’ll be less dependent on things going a certain way when you don’t have control over it.
And that’s the beauty of meditation, it helps you let go of what you don’t have any control over, which is another reason I recommend adopting the habit before the exercise since building discipline will be even easier.
Meditation Has a Lower Barrier to Entry
Anyone can practice meditation, more or less. You just have to be in the present. Now, there are certain kinds of meditation that aren’t available for everyone since some meditations do require certain poses or movements. Much like yoga does.
But if we’re looking at the bare bones definition, meditation comes down to being focused on your breath, since that’s what keeps you in the present moment without the mind wandering aimlessly.
When it comes to exercise, it requires physical movement, and you can’t exercise as you sleep, or just stay still, at least, for the purposes of growing muscle. You have to do some kind of movement, whereas, with meditation, that requirement isn’t there.
Both Can Improve Your Mood
Many choose to turn to exercise, or meditation as a way to brush off a worry they are having in their day-to-day and immerse themselves in either of the habits.
It’s rare to find someone that’s in a negative mood and that’s also constantly exercising, eating healthy, and sleeping well.
Of course, there are exceptions, but for the average individual, their lives would improve a lot should they do these basic things.
Meditation can also improve your mood, but it can also be a slower process since it takes time to learn to meditate and have it rewire the mind.
Exercise is something you can do right away without much going wrong or worrying about your mind wandering aimlessly, it’s all about repetition and sticking to a routine.
Clearing Your Mind
Both habits can reduce your mental fog significantly, and overall, improve your ability to concentrate. Exercise has been shown time and time again to improve our cognitive functions, and I’d say much in a similar way meditation or yoga would.
But if you need something quick, and you want to feel better immediately without having to go through a rigorous mental process, which you might find with meditation, you might benefit more from starting with exercise.
At least, with exercise, you’re constantly moving and your mind can be busy with that movement, it’s also easier to be present.
With meditation and just focusing on your breath, the mind can easily slip from the present and that’s what makes meditation harder than it’s supposed to be.
Is Exercise Better Than Meditation?
No. Both are just as important, and you can’t go wrong with either. In fact, I’d say it’s a good idea to meditate right after exercise to cool off and allow yourself to relax, and even speed up the recovery as well as the muscle growth.
Meditation and exercise aren’t mutually exclusive, and if you’ve managed to build the habit of meditation, without giving up as most people would, it’s gonna be much easier to pick up exercise, since it takes a certain kind of person to stick with it.
And that mental fortitude you build with meditation will help you with nearly anything hard in life that you can think of. There isn’t an area in your life that wouldn’t benefit from you having mental strength.
Most know what they need to do, and don’t really have a problem with doing it, as much as they have a consistency problem. It’s the difference that separates world champions from mere dreamers. If you’re doing meditation today, don’t sleep on exercise, and vice versa.
Meditation Is a Great Way To Find Balance
Much is often said about work-life balance, but it’s rather abstract since we’re not shown the how in a practical sense.
That’s where meditation comes in, to deal with the mind. Without proper rest, it’s easier for the discipline we built up to deplete. The mind needs a break and sometimes, sleep just isn’t enough, and meditation fills that gap.
A healthy mind will often reflect on a healthy body, but the reverse isn’t always the case. You can be as physically healthy as you want but you won’t be, overall, if your mind isn’t taken care of.
Your mind is perhaps one of your most important assets and you want to turn it in your favor, so you can overcome your limits.
Is Meditation Easier Than Exercise?
Considering that the barrier to entry to meditation is lower than that of exercise, it’s only logical to think it’s easier to do, right? Well, it depends.
Exercise lacks the psychological aspect meditation has, in the sense that you don’t often have to face your demons with exercise.
But with meditation, you are entering the world you have within to overcome parts of you that you might’ve suppressed over the years, and on a subconscious level antagonize your day-to-day. Some find the confrontation we face during meditation scary.
But it’s what often results in growth and becoming the best version of yourself. While a big part of meditation is relaxation and cooling off, we’ll inevitably face thoughts we don’t wish to have but we have to learn to show indifference to them.
This is hard at first, so to sum it up, meditation can be a blissful, relaxing experience, but it also risks being psychologically taxing for some.
Whereas when it comes to exercise, it’s more physically taxing than mental and you’re unlikely to have a psychologically negative experience from exercise.
Now, I’m not saying you’ll have a negative meditation experience — quite the contrary, but you should be open to the practice and embrace it with an open mind. Over time, you’ll become more resilient.