Meditate to Live Longer and Achieve Optimal Health

yogabrighterverticalFeeling stressed is not a rare occasion for many people but rather something they experience day-in, day out. Most of us spend our days running from appointment to appointment, trying to meet deadlines and tackle our never-ending to-do list.  We’ve got things to do, people to see and lots to accomplish. And then, hopefully, one day we get a wake-up call. We realize life is too short to be worrying about the past or the future and we recognize we need to take better care of ourselves.  We realize that we can’t really expect our body to cooperate if we don’t treat it well. We can’t expect to take care of others if we don’t first establish a priority of taking care of our own needs.  These realizations, along with rising health care costs and health conscious baby-boomers, have been primary reasons for the increasing popularity of mind/body programs like Yoga, Tai Chi, and Meditation.

A growing body of scientific evidence has supported mindful exercise as a significant means of favorably altering various aspects of health. Scientific research on Yoga has been enormous (well over 2000 studies) since the first research began in the late 1920’s and since 1985, thousands of research abstracts have been published on Tai Chi. Ralph LaForge, MD, a physician specializing in the benefits of mind/body exercise reports

“Meditation and mindful exercise have been credited with reducing stress and helping to manage anger and depression, improving muscular strength, flexibility, balance and coordination, reducing falls in the elderly, improving glucose tolerance, enhancing cardiovascular health, increasing self-awareness, self-efficacy and personal empowerment, decreasing pain and pain sensitization, reducing blood pressure, improving lipid profile, improving bone mineral density, improving pulmonary function, decreasing mortality in hypertensive individuals, decreasing mortality and/or clinical events associated with cardiovascular disease and more…”

That’s a long list of benefits!

Exercise is a physical stress to the body and with the popularity of High Intensity Fitness Training programs like Bootcamps and Cross-Fit, people are adding additional stressors that may be compounding the negative repercussions of stress. People who go hard all the time at work and in their lives, need to find a balanced approach to their workouts. There’s no need to go hard all the time at the gym. Exercisers would experience more positive change if they took the time to just slow down and participate in more mindful, focused breathing and movement. So balance your weekly workout regime with a couple hard, moderate and easy workouts.

Luckily, people are taking note and starting to implement mind/body meditation exercise. Even just stopping yourself when you’re feeling stressed and focusing on slow, deep breathing can be very helpful.

Try these tricks when you are feeling  stressed:

  • 5 minutes of mindful meditation when you first wake up each morning or right before you go to bed
  • Focus on your breathing
  • Contract and relax your muscles moving from your toes to your head
  • Make a mental list of everything you are grateful for
  • Becoming aware of your senses and observing what you hear, feel or see

If you need a little more guidance with meditation there are apps that can guide you through a mindful meditation. Search for “HEADSPACE” or “CALM” in your app store.

Here’s a short visualization that you could have a friend or family member lead you through. Or tape yourself reading it and then listen to it when you find the opportunity to meditate.

I am going to take you on a journey to help you relax.  Picture yourself on a beach on a tropical island. The white sand stretches for miles. The day is bright and sunny and the temperature is about 85 degrees. The sand feels warm under your bare feet. You are on vacation miles away from home. You have no worries or anything special to do except relax. You are alone or with a special person. You walk along the edge of the waves. Once in a while the water splashes up to your calves and cools your legs. The sea is a deep blue green and clear to the bottom. You inhale the fresh, salty air. The sun feels good on your skin and warms your muscles. You feel strong, healthy and happy. You find a place to spread out your towel and lie down. You wiggle your body so the sand conforms to your curves and you sink down. A sudden breeze from the ocean cools your body and ruffles your hair. You feel relaxed just listening to the waves and not thinking about anything in particular. Take a moment to enjoy your beach vacation.

You are feeling in control of your life. You can do anything you set your mind to. You feel good that you’ve been taking care of your body. You feel that you are getting stronger and stronger each day. You are getting better and better. Your body feels healthy, fit and strong. You feel so good about yourself. Take a moment and allow yourself to think only wonderful things about yourself.  Make a list of your good qualities, your strengths and your talents….Take a moment to make a mental list of the people and things you are grateful for…

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

12400710_910105169085414_4404323122584050401_nJoin us for the….
COUVE CLOVER RUN – 3, 7 & 10 MILES – March, 26th 2017 RUN, GIVE BACK & PARTY AT MAIN EVENT AND OTHER DOWNTOWN PUBS! We will make you earn your post-event party by running or walking 3, 7 or 10 miles, but it will be off the charts hosted by Main Event and other downtown Vancouver Pubs & Breweries.

Note:  As an avid Columbian reader, you can redeem a 2 week pass at her world-class training studio to help get you started.  Contact 360.574.7292 for more details.

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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