A single one-hour meditation session can do wonders for your heart, study shows

Sunday, June 03, 2018 by

As the years go by, more people struggle with anxiety and stress – two “mental monsters” that can significantly affect the well-being of millions every day. In some cases, these mental burdens can even affect our physical health.

To address this concern, a team of researchers studied how a “single, hour-long meditation session” can help individuals manage their anxiety and stress.

Based on data from the study, one session of mindful meditation can help undo the physical and mental side effects of stress on the body.

Mindfulness refers to “the ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing.” While on paper this seems like an easy task when a person is anxious or stressed, it can be hard not to be overwhelmed by our daily worries.

In the last 10 years, both meditation and mindfulness have become crucial in helping individuals live healthier lives. Meditation and mindfulness are now key to lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and other conditions that can worsen due to stress.

While earlier studies concerning anxiety and meditation have revealed notable reductions in anxiety levels after weeks of meditation, this study implies that even a single meditation session can help lower anxiety and even an individual’s cardiovascular risk.

Dr. John Durocher, assistant professor of physiology in the department of biological sciences at Michigan Technological University (MTU), and Hannah Marti, a recent graduate of MTU, spearheaded the research.

The researchers measured the anxiety of 14 participants with a system called the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) before and after the individuals joined a 60-minute introductory mindful meditation session.

The scientists discovered that meditation had noteworthy effects on both the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety. The individuals who took part in the meditation session reported far less anxiety on the BAI.

However, the physical indicators of the participants’ stress also decreased.

Once the one-hour meditation session was over, the researchers confirmed that there was a substantial change on blood vessel wall stiffness, which means that there is less stress or pressure on the arteries, right after meditation. This reduction was also evident even one hour after the meditation.

Because the early findings are positive, the researchers posit that individuals can start recognizing the physical and psychological benefits of an introductory session of mindful meditation, which can even help minimize their cardiovascular risk.

The scientists involved in the study believe that their findings can also pave the way for a new pathway of research.

Meditation and heart health

Healthcare professionals are focused on discovering other ways of dealing with anxiety and stress since yearly, more adults report that they face anxiety.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that over 19 percent of adults have experienced anxiety within the last year while over 31 percent have experienced an anxiety disorder in the past.

The NIMH added that anxiety disorders are more common among females than males.

The American Heart Association said that while everyone deals with anxiety and stress in their own way, excessive stress can “contribute to high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, physical inactivity, and overeating,” which are all factors linked to heart disease and stroke. (Related: Meditation Reduces Heart Disease Deaths.)

But thankfully, mindful meditation has been proven to address both anxiety and stress, along with other conditions that are aggravated chronic stress.

Mindful meditation can:

  • Boost willpower,
  • Ease inflammation in chronic conditions,
  • Help increase gray matter in the brain,
  • Improve focus and concentration,
  • Reduce loneliness,
  • Reduce pain,
  • and strengthen the immune system.

Dr. Ramani Durvasula, professor of psychology at California State University, Los Angelesexplained that more studies are showing that meditation and mindful meditation can help address anxiety. Results have determined that combining meditation with traditional treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy is also effective.

Dr. Durvasula continued that since anxiety is a “head game,” it makes sense that it can be managed with techniques that emphasize “distraction, refocusing body sensations, and thinking differently.”

While Dr. Durvasula acknowledged that the sample size of the study was small, their research is very promising. She shared that adding “well-designed and randomly controlled trials, larger sweeping claims can be made to the true effect of mindful meditation on cardiovascular disease management.”

Dr. Durocher expressed his happiness at the results of the study since the results imply that meditation can help reduce anxiety.

Even the study participants were pleased with the study outcomes. The researchers said that most of the participants continued their daily mindfulness routine even after the first session, which helped lower their anxiety levels one week later.

Read more articles about meditation and how it can help ease anxiety, stress, and even improve heart health at Mind.news.

Sources include:

Healthline.com

Mindful.org



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