Objective: Meditation interventions promote an array of well-being outcomes. Yet, the way in which these interventions promote beneficial outcomes is less clear. Here, we expanded on prior work by examining the influence of mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation on a key health behavior: physical activity. Methods: To test our hypotheses, we drew upon two randomized intervention studies. In Study 1, 171 adults (73.0% female) received 6 weeks of training in either mindfulness meditation, loving-kindness meditation, or were assigned to a control condition. In Study 2, 124 adults (60.0% female) were assigned to a 6-week mindfulness or loving-kindness meditation group. Results: Study 1 demonstrated that individuals who received mindfulness training reported sustained levels of physical activity across the intervention period (Pre: M = 4.09, SD = 2.07; Post M = 3.68, SD = 2.00; p = .054), while those in the control (Pre: M = 3.98, SD = 2.25; Post M = 3.01, SD = 2.07; p < .001) and loving-kindness (Pre: M = 4.11, SD = 2.26; Post M = 3.45, SD = 1.96; p < .001) conditions reported lower levels. Study 2 demonstrated those who received mindfulness training experienced increases in positive emotions during physical activity from pre to post-intervention (Pre: M = 6.06, SD = 2.51; Post: M = 6.54, SD = 2.43, p = .001), whereas those trained in loving-kindness meditation experienced decreases in positive emotions during physical activity (Pre: M = 6.45, SD = 2.35; Post: M = 6.09, SD = 2.46, p = .040). Conclusions: These results suggest mindfulness training (but not loving-kindness training) promotes sustained physical activity, and one plausible reason why this occurs is enhanced positive emotion during physical activity.
Don, B., P., Van Cappellen, P., & Fredrickson, B. L. (in press). Understanding engagement in and affective experiences during physical activity: The role of meditation interventions. Psychosomatic Medicine.