How Meditation Can Improve Athletic Performance

While some people are under the impression that meditation is something for new-age hippies, in reality, practicing meditation or deep breathing can be highly beneficial for most people, including those who want to boost athletic performance.

Meditation has even become popular with many top NFL stars as well as the military. Many studies have found that it cannot only increase fitness levels but it can improve emotional health and even benefit the brain.

Why should you consider practicing meditation?

Stress reduction

Stress reduction is crucial for optimal performance. Working out or competing when under stress has been proven to negatively affect performance. A recent study published in the journal Health Psychology showed that the results of meditation is typically associated with reduced stress levels in addition to decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Being relaxed increases the ability to remain calm under pressure and also improves alertness. Through consistently practicing meditation, you’ll help your body learn how to relax in the most stressful situations, building confidence and ultimately achieving a more positive frame of mind. This can help to improve your game as well as in many other aspects of life.

Improved sleep patterns

Those who don’t get enough shut-eye will experience a number of negative effects. Without sufficient rest, your body doesn’t have enough time to recover from strenuous physical activity. A lack of sleep has been shown to cause weight gain, negatively affect athletic performance, and result in an inability to focus. It can even lead to depression.

Athletes who are able to sleep better at night have been shown to perform better and experience better overall health. Improved quality and length of sleep is just another one of the great benefits of meditation.

Better endurance

By practicing meditation that utilizes visualization, athletic endurance can be greatly improved. Athletes who visualize accomplishing a specific goal, combined with the practice of deep breathing can help to train the body to work harder and for a longer period of time.

Speeding recovery time

By regularly practicing meditation, athletes as well as casual exercisers can help the body to recover quicker from injury. While physical activity is good, it also places stress on the body, including muscle fiber tears. Down time from one of the many common injuries that an athlete can experience, can be greatly reduced.

In addition, meditation boosts the immune system, preventing illness that can take you out the game completely, or wreak havoc with your regular workout routine. It can make a big difference in cold season with researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Health determining that those who engage in the practice experience fewer acute respiratory infections as well as a shortened duration and severity of symptoms from the common cold.

Better sense of self and the body

Meditation can help those who practice it to conquer those common “blind spots” that tend to make our flaws seem worse than they actually are. This serves to build self-confidence and improve performance.

The meditator learns to enhance awareness of every muscle which can help pinpoint an injury earlier and prevent further damage.

Finally, meditation can greatly improve the mind-body connection, allowing the athlete to discover and use its maximum potential.

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K.C. Dermody

K.C. Dermody is a freelance writer, writing for YCN, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Sports, and OMG! Yahoo as well as other web content projects, and working on a historical fiction novel based in ancient Ireland. She has a passion for travel, having traveled to over 40 U.S. states, Ireland many times, as well as other European countries, Mexico, Barbados and St. Vincent. She also has a love of history and an addiction to sports, especially the Oakland Raiders.

Follow K.C. Dermody on LinkedIn: k-c-dermody and Twitter: @kcdermody

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