Much like flossing, checking our credit score or having health check-ups, meditation is something we know we should be doing regularly. It’s hard to deny the health benefits—reduced stress, better focused, improved mood… the list goes on. But many of us just can’t bring ourselves to stick to it for longer than a week or so. However, the latest research on meditation is so promising, it’s sure to convince even the biggest sceptics to add some zen to their daily routine.
According to new research published in the journal PLOS One, regular meditation can help prevent you from getting colds and other viruses. In the study, 390 adults were given flu shots. Some of these participants were given an eight-week meditation course, others took exercise classes and the rest just had the shot. After the eight weeks, those who had meditated felt 17% better than the rest and missed the least amount of work days.
Yep, there’s a good reason that devout yogi in your office never seems to miss a day of work! And it turns out it’s not some kind of witchcraft at play, either! Stress has been known to reduce the body’s immune defences, as it can decrease the number of lymphocytes, the white blood cells that ward off infection. So, if you’ve ever found that you always get sick when you’ve got a lot on your plate, that’s probably why. On the other hand, meditation has been proven to calm the nervous system and reduce the physiological impact of stress. “Eliminating or modifying these [stress-inducing] factors in one’s life is vital to protect and augment the immune response,” clinical immunologist Leonard Calabrese says.
Interestingly, the study showed that the exercisers missed 82 days on average of work on average, compared to 74 for the meditators. So, the next time you feel like you’re on the verge of the sniffles, you may want to consider skipping your workout and getting in a meditation sesh instead. Can’t motivate yourself to meditate? You may want to consider using a guided meditation app, or checking out these different types of meditation.