Spending alone time by doing yoga or through thoughtful meditation can help strengthen the body and reduce health care costs, according to a recent study. Researchers say that stress affects both the mind and the body, and that by focusing to manage stress, an overall healthy well-being can be maintained.
Researchers say that practices such as yoga, tai chi, prayer, rhythmic breathing or mindfulness meditation can reduce the need for health care service by about 43 percent. These practices can induce a deep physiological state of rest and can affect a person's heart rate, oxygen consumption and blood pressure.
In a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers found that most health care costs are due to stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression, and that in 2012, the total expenditure amounted to $80 billion per year. Nearly 90 percent of people who suffer from stress-related disorders do seek health care services, and that 80 percent of these patients show lack of resiliency.
The study then assessed information from patients who applied themselves at the Benson-Henry Institute (BHI) Relaxation Response Resiliency program from 2006 to 2014.
Participants went through relaxation activities that focused on social support, positive psychology and cognitive-skills training. Medical data from over 4,400 participants of the program were compared to that of 13,150 patients who did not take the program.
Researchers said that these participants managed to use significantly less health care services after they applied compared to the year before it.
"We have shown in the past that it works in the laboratory and on the level of individual physiology, and now we can see that when you make people well, they do not want to use health care so much," said James Stahl, lead researcher from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Centre in New Hampshire.
Researchers say that mind-body intervention should be seen as preventative care similar to vaccination and driver education.
"Just like fluorinating your water or vaccinating yourself, these are ways of keeping you healthy with, from a public health perspective, minimal investment," added Stahl.
In the United States, studies say that more than 20 million Americans practice yoga, and that participants spend $10.3 billion per year on yoga equipment and classes.
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