ExerciseWellness Move Your Body and Mind: Unlocking the Power of Mindfulness Meditation for Physical Activity

mindfulness meditation

The past decade has witnessed a surge in interest in mindfulness meditation, a practice that cultivates present-moment awareness and acceptance. While traditionally associated with mental well-being, mindfulness is increasingly recognized for its potential benefits on physical health.

This paper explores the current research on the relationship between mindfulness meditation and physical activity,  drawing from two key studies:

  1. Strowger, M., Kiken, L. G., & Ramcharran, K. (2018). Mindfulness meditation and physical activity: Evidence from 2012 National Health Interview Survey. Health Psychology, 37(10), 924.
  2. Dueland, L. N. (2023). Effects of a short-term mindfulness meditation on a battery of muscular fitness in active college individuals.

Mindfulness and Physical Activity Levels

Strowger et al. (2018) examined data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey in the United States to analyze the link between mindfulness meditation and physical activity. Their findings revealed that adults who practiced mindfulness meditation reported significantly higher levels of physical activity compared to non-meditators. This association remained significant even after controlling for various demographic and socioeconomic factors, suggesting a potential independent effect of mindfulness on engagement in physical activity.

Mindfulness and Specific Physical Performance

Dueland (2023) explored the impact of a short-term mindfulness meditation intervention on muscular fitness in active college students. Participants underwent a battery of fitness tests before and after a four-week meditation program. Results demonstrated significant improvements in grip strength, leg strength, and flexibility among those who participated in the program compared to the control group. This study suggests that mindfulness meditation may lead to specific physical performance gains, particularly in strength and flexibility.

Potential Mechanisms

Several potential mechanisms explain the observed relationship between mindfulness meditation and increased physical activity. This practice may:

  • Enhance self-awareness. By cultivating present-moment awareness, individuals may become more attuned to their physical sensations and bodily needs, motivating them to engage in physical activity.
  • Reduce stress and anxiety. Mindfulness practices can help individuals manage stress and anxiety, which can hinder motivation and energy levels for physical activity.
  • Increase self-efficacy. Mindfulness can promote self-compassion and acceptance, leading to increased confidence and belief in one’s ability to engage in and sustain physical activity.
  • Improve focus and attention. Mindfulness can enhance focus and attention, which can benefit individuals during exercise, leading to more efficient and enjoyable workout experiences.

Limitations and Future Directions

While these studies provide valuable insights into the relationship between mindfulness and physical activity, we must acknowledge some limitations. Both studies relied on self-reported data, which is susceptible to bias. Additionally, the short duration of Dueland’s intervention limits the ability to draw long-term conclusions. Further research is needed to explore the long-term effects of meditation on physical activity levels and performance across different populations and activity types. Additionally, investigating the specific mechanisms through which mindfulness influences physical activity is crucial for developing effective interventions.


The current body of research suggests a promising relationship between mindfulness meditation and physical activity. This practice may encourage individuals to engage in more physical activity and improve their muscular fitness. This association is likely driven by various factors, including enhanced self-awareness, stress reduction, increased self-efficacy, and improved focus. While further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms and long-term effects, mindfulness meditation holds potential as a valuable tool for promoting physical activity and enhancing overall health and well-being.

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