A Zen Path to Heart Health: Can Meditation Really Improve It?

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Meditation as a Way to Quit Smoking

Smokers who partook in mindfulness training had a higher chance of quitting than those who simply practiced relaxation. Furthermore, before & after brain scans of the participants revealed that participants in the meditation group had increased activity in the areas of the brain that are associated with self-control. A review of several randomized, controlled trials of mindfulness training found that meditation was more effective than group counseling for quitting smoking. In contrast, a different study found that transcendental meditation did not significantly reduce cigarette smoking in college students.

The authors of the AHA report were careful to point out that different forms of meditation have different benefits, so these findings on smoking are not necessarily at odds.

Health Benefits of Meditation for Inflammation

There is ample, high-quality evidence that meditation and other mind-body interventions downregulate pathways of stress that are tied to chronic inflammation. Though these studies do not specifically address meditation and cardiovascular health, reducing chronic inflammation can reduce a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

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