There are many physical health benefits to be gained from meditation, proven by research. Here are some great reasons to start, or restart your meditation practice.
Meditation reduces risk of heart diseases and stroke than any other illness. More people die of heart diseases in the world than any other illness. In a study published in late 2012, a group of over 200 high-risk individuals was asked to either take a health education class promoting better diet and exercise or take a class on Transcendental Meditation. During the next 5 years researchers accompanying the participants found that those who took the meditation class had a 48% reduction in their overall risk of heart attack, stroke and death. They noted that meditation “significantly reduced risk for mortality, myocardial infarction, and stroke in coronary heart disease patients. These changes were associated with lower blood pressure and psychosocial stress factors.” There are also other researchers pointing out similar conclusions, about related health conditions.
Meditation affects genes that control stress and immunity. A study from Harvard Medical School demonstrates that, after a practicing yoga and meditation, the individuals had improved mitochondrial energy production, consumption, and resiliency. This improvement develops a higher immunity in the system and resilience to stress.
Meditation reduces blood pressure clinical research has demonstrated that the practice of Zen Meditation (also known as “Zazen”) reduces stress and high blood pressure. Another experiment, this time with a technique called “relaxation response”, yielded similar results, with 2/3 of high blood pressure patients showing significant drops in blood pressure after 3 months of meditation, and, consequently, less need for medication. This is because relaxation results in the formation of nitric oxide, which opens up your blood vessels.
Mindfulness training decreases inflammatory disorders. A study conducted in France and Spain at the UW-Madison Waisman Centre indicates that the practice of mindfulness meditation produces a range of genetic and molecular effects on the participants. More specifically, it was noted reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.
Mindfulness practice helps prevent asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. In research conducted by neuroscientists of the University of WisconsinMadison (), two groups of people were exposed to different methods of stress control. One of them received mindfulness training, while the other received nutritional education, exercise and music therapy. The study concluded that mindfulness techniques were more effective in relieving inflammatory symptoms than other activities that promote well-being.
Meditation and meditative prayer help treat premenstrual syndrome and menopausal symptoms; This is the conclusion of over 20 randomised control studies taken from PubMed, PsycInfo, and the Cochrane Databases, involving the techniques of Meditation, Meditative Prayer, Yoga, Relaxation Response.
Mindfulness meditation reduces risk of Alzheimer and premature death. Results from recent research, published online in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, states that just 30 minutes of meditation a day not only reduces the sense of loneliness, but also reduces the risk of heart disease, depression, Alzheimer’s and premature death.
Mindfulness training is helpful for patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia. In a study published in PubMed, 11 participants that suffered from fibromyalgia underwent an 8-week mindfulness training. As a result, the researchers found significant improvement in the overall health status of the participants and in symptoms of stiffness, anxiety, and depression. Significant improvements were also seen in the reported number of days “felt good” and number of days “missed work” because of fibromyalgia.
Meditation helps manage the heart rate and respiratory rate. In a study published by the Korean Association of Genuine Traditional Medicine, practitioners of “Integrated Amrita Meditation Technique” showed a significant decrease in heart rate and respiratory rate for up to 8 months after the training period.
Mindfulness meditation may even help treat HIV. Quoting from a study from UCLA: Lymphocytes, or simply CD4 T cells, are the “brains” of the immune system, coordinating its activity when the body comes under attack. They are also the cells that are attacked by HIV, the devastating virus that causes AIDS and has infected roughly 40 million people worldwide. The virus slowly eats away at CD4 T cells, weakening the immune system. But the immune systems of HIV/AIDS patients face another enemy as well – stress, which can accelerate CD4 T cell declines. Now, researchers at UCLA report that the practice of mindfulness meditation stopped the decline of CD4 T cells in HIV-positive patients suffering from stress, slowing the progression of the disease.(…) Creswell and his colleagues ran an eight-week mindfulness-based stress-reduction (MBSR) meditation program and compared it to a one-day MBSR control seminar, using a stressed and ethnically diverse sample of 48 HIV-positive adults in Los Angeles. Participants in the eight-week group showed no loss of CD4 T cells, indicating that mindfulness meditation training can buffer declines. In contrast, the control group showed significant declines in CD4 T cells from pre-study to post-study. Such declines are a characteristic hallmark of HIV progression.
Since you're going to be so much healthier, there's more reason to hang around longer and meditation may also make you live longer. Telomeres are an essential part of human cells that affect how our cells age. Though the research is not conclusive yet, there is data suggesting that “that some forms of meditation may have salutary effects on telomere length by reducing cognitive stress and stress arousal and increasing positive states of mind and hormonal factors that may promote telomere maintenance.”