How to live longer: Meditation linked to lower cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar
Scientific health benefits of meditation and mindfulness explained
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Led by Dr Chayakrit Krittanawong, his research – published in the American Journal of Cardiology – revealed those who partake in meditation have a reduced level of cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. “I believe in meditation, as it can give us a sense of calm, peace, and stress reduction, leading to improvement of our emotional well-being,” said Dr Krittanawong. His research utilises data from more than 61,000 survey participants collated from the annual National Health Interview Survey.
Almost 10 percent of participants (6,000 people) said they practised meditation.
Looking at the health data available, those who meditated had numerous health benefits compared to those who didn’t meditate.
For example, people who engaged in meditation had lower rates of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Furthermore, they had lower cases of stroke and coronary artery disease compared to those who didn’t meditate.
All these conditions need to be well managed in order to live a long and healthy life.
Even after co-factors, such as age, sex, cigarette smoking, and body mass index were taken into account, the effect of meditation was still significant.
However, there were some limitations to the study as people were not asked what type of meditation they engaged with.
In addition, the length of meditation was not identified and researchers can’t say definitely that meditation directly decreases cardiovascular risk.
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It may be that those in better cardiovascular health are more likely to practice meditation.
Dr Krittanawong added: “We would need a powerful study such as a clinical trial to determine whether meditation could benefit cardiovascular health.”
However, this research study adds to a growing body of evidence highlighting the benefits of regular meditation.
To illustrate, a West Virginia University research team – led by Dr Kim Innes – found that medication may help improve memory.
In a randomised controlled trial, 60 older adults with subjective cognitive decline were asked to meditate for 12 minutes each day for 12 weeks.
The study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease, showed that meditation had a significant improvement in subjective memory function.
Participants in the study showed improvements in sleep, mood, stress, well-being and quality of life.
The substantial gains observed in memory and cognition were then maintained for a further three months post trial.
Headspace added that the practice of meditation enables you to “observe thoughts without judgement”.
“And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well,” it said.
Researchers from John Hopkins University noted that meditation eases psychological symptoms of depression, anxiety and pain related to stress.
Thus, meditation not only provides the health benefits needed to live a longer life, it can also help you lead a more content one too.
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