Large study links regular meditation with vast heart health benefits

Regularly meditating may offer vast heart health benefits, according to a large new study. The findings follow other smaller studies that have linked the two, but without adequate data to determine just how strong of an association this represents. The meditation benefits included things like lowered rates of high blood pressure and cholesterol, coronary artery disease, and more.

This new study involved survey data on more than 61,000 people, nearly 6,000 of whom reported that they engaged in some variety of meditation. Digging into the data, the researchers found that compared to individuals who didn't meditate, those who engaged in the practice experienced lower rates of cardiovascular health issues, the most prominent being coronary artery disease followed by high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure.

These benefits were observed even after accounting for other factors that would influence cardiovascular health risk, including things like smoking, obesity, and age. Ultimately, the researchers referred to the effects of meditation as 'significant,' noting that this practice has also been linked by past studies to lower levels of stress, better mental health, and similar benefits.

Unfortunately, the study isn't able to say whether a particular form of meditation has more benefits regarding heart health compared to other varieties — the data didn't include info on specific practices. As well, it is unclear how long the participants engaged in meditation and of what intensity, things that may influence how beneficial the practice is for health.

There is a big question that remains, however, and it's whether meditation is the direct cause of these health benefits — it is possible that people who meditate may engage in other lifestyle practices that lead to these benefits, something that can't be easily determined from the survey data. Ultimately, however, the research joins many studies to reinforce the notion that meditation is probably a beneficial practice to add to one's daily habits.