In a study conducted by University of Wisconsin and published in the Annals of Family Medicine, researchers found that mindfulness meditation and moderate exercise can be avenues to maintain health during the flu and cold season. Study participants who exercised regularly or who undertook mindfulness meditation training had substantially fewer periods of illness than participants who did not engage in these two activities.
Improving Awareness, Improving Health
Proponents of mindfulness meditation have long suggested that the practice helps individuals regulate emotional states and improves body and self awareness. In the study conducted by the University of Wisconsin, participants underwent an eight-week mindfulness meditation training program and then were followed for an eight-week period afterward. Participants who completed the meditation training reported substantially fewer occasions of flu and colds. Researchers suggest that the meditation training helped the study participants by boosting their immune system and attuned study participants to body awareness and attention.
Another group of study participants was assigned routine moderate exercise, such as biking or running for eight weeks. Then they were followed for an eight-week period. Compared to individuals who participated in the meditation training, study participants who exercised still saw fewer incidences of flu and cold than study participants who engaged in neither meditation nor exercise. However, this group had moderately higher levels of illness than study participants who underwent meditation training.
By becoming aware of our bodes, improving attention and increasing self awareness, we may also be improving our ability to fight off illness. Although this initial study was small, researchers are excited about the potential implications of the study results and ways in which people can potentially improve their overall health without the use of chemicals or pharmacological intervention.
– The Alternative Daily