Last week we looked at how pain can put us in a spiral of inactivity. The decrease in movement can lead to more pain, less movement, more pain… and so on and so on. Exercising when you have pain is tricky. There is a fine line between doing enough to feel better and doing too much ending up in more pain. Pain, in the end, lowers motivation, keeping the spiral stuck in the downward direction.
There is a key ingredient we can add when approaching exercise that can help us with this dilemma – mindfulness. Research is showing mindfulness can be very effective in dealing with pain. Mindfulness meditation has been shown in clinical trials to reduce chronic pain by 57 percent. Accomplished meditators can reduce pain by over 90 percent! Mindfulness is not just a form of meditation. When practiced regularly, it helps us to have a mindset that is open, curious and kind. Mindfulness and pain research tells us that our thoughts about pain – its history, our fears, memories, beliefs, all affect the levels of pain we experience. This three-part article explains the process in more detail. It’s worth a read if you are dealing with pain issues right now.
Exercising for weight loss can promote the opposite mindset. When we ignore our body’s symptoms in order to push the body to burn more calories, we are being anything but curious, open and kind. The “no pain no gain“, “if some is good more is better” and “just do it” mindsets promotes mindlessness. These mindsets work for sports training but not for lasting success with weight loss and health. There is no evidence that our muscles need to be sore in order to get stronger. Studies show something really is much better than nothing when it comes to exercise. And when we “just do it” we miss out on the helpful signals our body is sending us.
Next week we will blend our approach to exercise for weight loss with this skill of mindfulness to discover an approach to exercise that can reverse the spiral of inactivity and pain. This week, check out the article on the connection between mindfulness and pain management so you are ready to apply it to approaches to exercise for true weight loss success.
Keep Moving, Be Well
These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.
Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery. Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center