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New study reveals surprising benefit of meditation

The VITL Nutrition Team / May 16, 2018

You might consider meditation to be confined to the walls of yoga classes and not something you should be seriously considering in your daily life as a tool to improve your health. Think again!

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Alongside having calming effects and encouraging physical relaxation, interesting research has now revealed a link between meditation and a reduction of blood pressure.

High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is a major risk factor for the development of coronary, cerebrovascular, and peripheral vascular disease. Usually, patients with hypertension are treated with medications but not all patients respond well and some may experience adverse side effects. In these cases, alternative interventions are key. 

Recent research has investigated meditation as an alternative avenue to help reduce blood pressure and has revealed that meditation is instrumental in a ‘heart-healthy' lifestyle. The study by the American Heart Association (1) indicated a clear relationship between stress and hypertension. Specifically, the research investigated how we can activate the 'Relaxation Response' (RR) as a way of counteracting the 'Stress Response' to help with the reduction of blood pressure. Their research revealed that certain techniques can evoke this response, including meditation, and thus contribute to the reduction of blood pressure. 

Further to this, the improvements they observed in blood pressure are consistent with the changes that are usually seen with antihypertensive medications, but without the adverse effects. Perfect!

Here’s how to add a little mindfulness and meditation to your day:

  • Body scan -  this is an interesting relaxation technique whereby you first focus your attention on your feet and then move your focus, body part by body part, all the way up to your head. It is suggested you should imagine you are scanning your body with light, and continue to imagine moving this upward throughout your body, with a focus on any areas of tension, pain or stress. 
  • Mindfulness - try to pull yourself away from your thoughts, ground yourself in the present and pay attention to how your body is feeling, or take note of what’s happening in the world around you. 
  • Take a break to check in with your breathing - this simply involves slow inhalation and exhalation, with a focus on where you feel stress in your body to help you feel relaxed.
  • Visualisation - picture a calm and tranquil setting, focus on this and let yourself drift away. 
  • Empty your mind - this technique involves allowing thoughts to flow freely in and out of your mind, and allows you to be consciously aware without any specific focus. 

Give it a try, you can start with just 10 minutes a day. We recommend you make it a part of your everyday morning routine to set yourself up for a successful day ahead.