Are you looking forward to a healthier and happier 2024? Combining mindfulness with exercise may be the key, according to the findings of a new study.

Regular physical activity can offer mental and physical health benefits. Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which a person focuses on the present moment without being overly reactive or overwhelmed by the things going around. It is often associated with reduced stress and anxiety, and is known to help people stay healthy and happy.

In the latest study, published in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity, researchers analyzed how the positive effects can be increased when the two are combined. They found life changes that combine physical activity and mindfulness can help enhance mood and improve mental health and well-being.

"Interventions combining physical activity with mindfulness are effective for improving mental health and wellbeing, possibly more so than either approach alone," the researchers wrote.

Mindfulness can help motivate people to start exercising and overcome minor pain and discomforts.

"Starting 2024 with a resolution to exercise more can have really positive physical and mental health benefits. But we know that starting out can be tough and that it can also be hard to stick with it over time. Mindfulness is an approach that can help us 'train up' the psychological strengths we need to exercise and be more in tune with our bodies, as well as make exercising more interesting and help us recognize its benefits," said Masha Remskar, a psychologist and lead researcher from the University of Bath.

The research was conducted with support from the nonprofit Medito Foundation. Based on the findings, the team has now developed and released a mindfulness audio course that may help people start the habit of exercise.

According to Remskar, becoming more mindful prompts people to think differently about their lifestyle, and helps them accept their shortcomings, which in turn is essential for building healthy habits.

"There is a huge potential to use mindfulness to unlock the positive benefits exercise can bring," he added.