Bold claims: benefits of movement

running shoes on stairs - bold claims - benefits of movement
Yes, I make bold claims: benefits of movement

The skills and insight gained through practice serve us everywhere for the rest of our lives. Once we taste this wisdom, the world opens. We truly see a child’s smile, taste our food, and smell the flowers more than just figuratively. Actions as simple as sensing which foot goes through the door first,  feeling your hand grip the racquet, or noticing one breath all the way through can train the mind.

Once you get that, it can change your life in the same positive, helpful way it changed mine.

That’s a bold claim.

Yes, and I’m not the only one making it.

Let’s look at the science.

Before I talk about the benefits of combining movement with meditation, let’s look at the well-researched benefits of movement alone.5 Those of us who already enjoy a movement form already know. We experience them! If you haven’t embraced movement (yet) or don’t know about the ways movement improves your life, here are some benefits:


• Lowers blood pressure
• Improves bone health
• Reduces blood sugar
• Enhances weight loss
• Improves cardiovascular health
• Increases breathing and lung capacity
• Manages menopausal symptoms
• Slows the aging process
• Provides pain relief


• Improves reading skill
• Helps grow brain cells
• Enhances learning
• Promotes retention of information


• Improves self-esteem
• Helps manage attention and hyperactivity
• Reduces addiction
• Decreases depressive symptoms
• Improves mood and mood stability
• Reduces anxiety
• Reduces stress

About stress:

“At every level from the microcellular to the psychological, exercise not only wards off the ill effects of chronic stress; it can also reverse them. Studies  show that if researchers exercise rats that have been chronically stressed, that activity makes the hippocampus grow back to its pre-shriveled state.  The mechanisms by which exercise changes how we think and feel are so much more effective than donuts, medicines, and wine. When you say you  feel less stressed out after you go for a swim, or even a fast walk, you are.”

—John J. Ratey, author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain6

And let’s not forget exercising with your family, dog, friends, or a group. Exercise can be a bonding experience too.

5 John J. Ratey, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (New York:
Little, Brown, 2018) 79.
6 John J. Ratey, Spark, 79.

This excerpt is from Make Every Move a Meditation by Nita Sweeney which is available now through Amazon and Mango Media.