Daily Meditation Can Keep Athletes Primed for Training

Like physical exercise, sustaining the benefits of mindfulness takes practice.

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Plenty of research suggests mindfulness meditation may improve attention and emotional well-being. This is particularly useful during high-demand, high-stress periods, when both are vulnerable due to taxed cognitive function.

Now a new study out of the University of Miami finds that that meditation not only provides protection from a natural decline in attention during high-demand times, but that the more you practice, the greater that protection is.

“We had a strong hunch that practice matters, but this was the first time we saw that the type of training matters.”

“That’s the biggest take-home for me: Practice is key,” says Amishi P. Jha, an associate professor of psychology and lead author of the study. “It’s not conceptual. It’s not like book-learning. [Mindfulness training] has to be embodied to get the most benefit.”

Researchers recruited 100 of the school’s Division 1 football players during their intense pre-season training interval to compare the effects of mindfulness versus relaxation on attention and emotional well-being. “During high-demand intervals, the high frequency of external demands may require student athletes to expend resources of physical strength as well as cognitive and affective control to maintain optimal functioning on the field and in the classroom,”…