Meditation is increasingly popular among Americans. And for good reason: the list of conditions that can be eased by regular practice is long and growing, with many of them particularly common among seniors. Since it’s so simple and doesn’t require high levels of overall fitness, this complementary treatment seems tailor-made for older adults.
So what exactly can meditation do for you? Read on for more.
1. It makes your heart healthier.
Stress is one of the key contributing factors of cardiovascular diseases. That’s where meditation comes to the rescue. According to the analysis funded by National Institute of Health, it can significantly reduce hypertension by alleviating stress levels. It also halts the risk of heart attack and stroke by 48% and improves overall cardiovascular function.
2. It sharpens your memory.
As we age, certain physiological changes can occur in our brain, often leading to occasional forgetfulness or confusion, both of which are perfectly normal. Even as we age, the brain maintains the ability to produce new cells, which, among other things, can be done through meditation. Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said that everyday practice thickens the area of the brain that is responsible for memory. Meditation may even slow down the progression of memory-related diseases, as it increases blood flow to the brain and reduces adverse factors.
3. It decreases pain.
As we age, our body becomes less subtle at sending us signals. Meditation can help with their management by teaching our brain not to perceive pain as a life danger. In time, we start to process it in different brain areas, which are responsible for non-judgmental observation and attention control. Several studies have proven it can improve the quality of life in patients with chronic pain, including lower back pain, joint disease, and nerve pain.
4. It boosts your immune function.
The older we get, the more important it is to take proper care of our immune system. As their immune response becomes dysregulated, seniors get more prone to infections, autoimmune diseases or chronic inflammation.
Research shows that this decline is reversible, at least to some extent. Upon completing an eight-week-long meditation program, older people were able to lower the risk of inflammation and related diseases. Elsewhere, experienced meditators showed improved ability to fight viral infections.
5. It alleviates insomnia.
One in 2 people 65 or older suffers from insomnia thanks to a multitude of reasons, including pain, heart conditions and dementia.
Meditation can reduce anxiety in seniors, which will allow them to fall asleep more easily. In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, those who committed to everyday practice showed improved sleeping patterns and fewer daytime symptoms of insomnia.
Want to try it yourself? Remember that you don’t have to push too hard to see positive results. What really counts is your consistency. You can start with as little as a few minutes each day. If it’s painful for you to sit straight, laying down will work just as well. It may be a good idea to explore different meditation styles and see what suits you most, which will allow you to sustain your practive on a daily basis.