An OM a day keeps the doctor away.
It may not be shocking, but new research conducted at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine in Massachusetts confirms that participants engaged in relaxing activities like meditation and yoga became less stressed. Further study indicated a distinct correlation between lower stress levels, allowing for more resilience in the body and mind, therefore significantly reducing health care costs.
It’s becoming increasingly accepted among medical professionals that meditative practices activate the body’s relaxation response in the central nervous system, switching us “off” from fight-or-flight reactive mode. This, in turn, allows the body to begin to heal itself on a cellular level. When we operate from “survival mode” the stress response raises our cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and thus, we are more susceptible to disease.
With stress ranked at the top of the list of health concerns in the U.S., the dollars spent on the medical treatment of stress-related illness remains staggering.
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Researchers say that practices such as yoga, tai chi, prayer, rhythmic breathing or mindfulness meditation can reduce the need for health care service by about 43 percent. These practices can induce a deep physiological state of rest and can affect a person’s heart rate, oxygen consumption and blood pressure.
In a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers found that most health care costs are due to stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression, and that in 2012, the total expenditure amounted to $80 billion per year. Nearly 90 percent of people who suffer from stress-related disorders do seek health care services, and that 80 percent of these patients show lack of resiliency.
Practice makes perfect, and it could take years before the body’s nervous system might fully rewire. But for stress sufferers, resiliency is within reach with a steady commitment to a regular yoga and meditation regimen. When the mind and body are repaired from the inside out, stronger immunity is often reported, not to mention greater empathy, improved concentration and overall wellbeing. How’s that for more resiliency?
The Indo-Asian wire at NDTV has more:
Resilience can be enhanced with practice, starting with the relaxation response—a physiologic state of deep rest induced by practices such as rhythmic breathing, mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi or prayer, the study said.
The researchers found that people who graduated from a resiliency-boosting program used considerably less health care services in the year following the course compared with the year before.
“We have shown in the past that it works in the laboratory and on the level of individual physiology, and now we can see that when you make people well, they do not want to use health care so much,” said study leader James Stahl from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Centre in New Hampshire, US.
With a decrease in health care costs still nowhere in sight for many Americans, what natural methods are you using to reduce your doctor’s visits?
Andrea Rice is the Practice and Community Editor for Wanderlust Media. She is also a writer and yoga teacher. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Yoga Journal, mindbodygreen, Yoganonymous, AstroStyle, and several music magazines. Her teaching style is a blend of her love for music and intuitive movement, with emphasis on core strength. You can find her regular classes at Shambhala Yoga in Brooklyn and connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.