Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
We know that meditation helps calm the mind and benefits the practitioner in myriad other ways. New studies back up what yoga students and spiritual seekers everywhere already know to be true: Meditation is one of the best things you can do for your health and overall wellness.
Here are a few interesting studies we’ve seen recently about the benefits of meditation on the body, mind, and beyond.
Meditation Helps Chronic Pain, Stress
An agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department, recently released a report that says mindfulness meditation is an effective means to lesson chronic and acute pain. The agency reviewed 14,788 studies on meditation to reach its conclusion, but only 34 of those studies were high enough quality for consideration. While the evidence was less solid, the agency also saw benefits in reducing stress and anxiety.
Meditation Could Help Prevent Colds
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that adults who meditate may suffer from fewer cold and flu episodes than those who don’t. In fact, those who practiced mindfulness meditation for eight weeks missed 76 percent fewer days of work than those who didn’t. Also, when meditation practitioners did experience cold symptoms, they recovered faster than those who did not meditate.
Long-Term Meditation Strengthens the Brain
Last year, UCLA researchers found that those who practice meditation long-term actually have a physically thicker brain with more gyrification (or folding of the cortex), which allows the meditators’ brains to process information more quickly than people who do not meditate. Perhaps even more fascinating, the study, which was published in the online journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, found that the longer the person had maintained a meditation practice, the more gyrification present in their brains.
Meditation Boosts Music Engagement
While music engagement might not have as big an impact on health as some other meditation benefits, having an appreciation of the arts can certainly enhance one’s life. A new study in the journal Psychology of Music, found that people who listened to mindfulness meditation before hearing a recording of the opera “La Boheme” reported they were able to engage more with the music than those who didn’t do the mindfulness meditation.