It’s widely known now that regular exercise is the foundation of good health both mentally and physically. But is there one type of exercise that’s better than another? Perhaps not, but there might be something to it.
If there is a form of exercise that you truly value and puts you in a headspace similar to that of “flow” then you might want to consider that to be better than others. In this sense it’s more relaxing to our mental state and gives us a more mental benefit. For example, if you hate running and run just to get exercise it still might feel good. But it may not give you the meditative release that engaging in something else like flow might do.
Flow is when your brain is totally engaged – it’s almost meditative and it can be as beneficial as meditation – giving your brain a break from the constant struggle of our day to day thoughts.
Obviously having better health can be truly impactful to our day to day living. But engaging in these activities can also benefit us in other ways.
For example, when we reviewed the life insurance company Sproutt we found they are offering to help people with healthy lifestyles pay less for insurance – simply because this lifestyle technically means that their life expectancy is higher. And not enough life insurance companies are recognizing that.
This is the first time we have legitimately heard of insurance premiums being lowered in response to a healthier lifestyle. Even health insurance companies do not do this – they have a blanket rate for everyone. They sometimes try to offer free services such as health checkups and preventative screenings. But sometimes getting them to pay for those services is challenging.
I know when I go surfing and I try to think about a problem I’m having I find that it’s next to impossible – my mind is fully focused on surfing. My brain almost goes blank. I’m fully absorbed in what I’m doing and thoughts seem to slow down. This is flow and this is the most beneficial form of exercise imaginable. I do not really get this when running, but some people do. The “runner’s high” is a very popular high.
Although a certain percentage of a person’s overall happiness is “fixed”, there is still some percentage that they do have control over. And it takes an effort to produce happiness in this area. It doesn’t just come naturally. You must do certain things to cultivate an attitude of happiness. Flow is one of those things. You can achieve flow through non-exercise pursuits such as art. But flow within exercise produces that two fold benefit that is truly remarkable.
Some of the characteristics of flow are: complete concentration on the task, a feeling of time speeding up or slowing down, effortlessness and ease, balance between the challenge level and the skill, and a feeling of control over the task. These things are all attainable. It may be argued that one needs a certain proficiency in order to attain flow, but I would argue that’s not always the case. As long as one feels in control and a sense of time slowing down then you’re for sure in flow.