Meditation May Be as Effective as Exercise Programs, Study Suggests

Meditation isn't usually seen as a super physical activity. After all, by definition, meditation is the practice of clearing your mind to return to a place of straightforward thinking and calm emotions. But according to a recent study, meditation might actually get you more motivated to move after you're done getting your "om" on.

The May 2018 research, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that a meditation and stress-reduction program may be as effective as getting people to move as structured exercise programs. Researchers compared two programs — mindfulness-based stress reduction and aerobic exercise training — and measured changes in participants’ exercise, general physical activity, and sedentary time with another group of people that did neither program. Lead researcher Jacob Meyer, PhD, said in a press release that the folks assigned to both of the two programs were more active than the control group, logging in an extra 75 minutes a week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Considering the fact that exercising can actually prolong your life, this is no small feat to dismiss.

As if that didn't sound promising enough, this new study is just one part of an ever-growing body of research that supports giving meditation a try. If you're curious about other health benefits of meditation, you're certainly not alone. Many folks who are new to the idea are wondering if the activity is worth a shot as a way to boost their well-being. Maybe you know a friend who does morning meditation every day and seems to always be the picture of good health. Or maybe you met with a doctor who can't stop talking about meditation, mindfulness, and the perks that come from focusing on your breathing. But does meditation work as a way to truly improve your wellness, or is that nothing but hype?

Science appears to be on meditation's side. Several studies have linked the practice to helping with migraine relief, weight loss, better sleep, and improved heart health, among other things. Although meditation is traditionally associated with Eastern philosophies and religions, it has surged in popularity in the United States in recent years as a more secular activity to help people relieve stress. So it's pretty neat that new meditation daily benefits are being discovered all the time. Keep scrolling to see more of the best health benefits of meditation.