Meditation and yoga make you less likely to need a doctor

woman meditating
CC BY 2.0 Paolo Neoz

A new study has found that relaxation techniques dramatically decreases the need for healthcare visits and interventions, which is a good reason to pull out the old yoga mat.

Healthcare practitioners have known for a long time that using relaxation techniques can improve health, but it’s hard to prescribe such treatments without scientific evidence. That’s why researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital decided to run a retrospective analysis, in which they analyzed the records of 4,000 patients between 2006 and 2014 who followed their doctors’ recommendations for relaxation techniques, and compared them to 13,000 other patients who did not use those same techniques.

The results were impressive. The use of “Relaxation Response and Resiliency Training,” as the study calls it, reduced the incidence of healthcare visits by 43 percent. By learning how to use the relaxation techniques, patients were better able to care for themselves and manage symptoms without needing a physician’s intervention.

Stress-related disorders are the third leading cause of healthcare expenditures in the United States, after heart disease and cancer. In 2012, the treatment of stress-related disorders, such as headaches, back pain, insomnia, reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, and chest pain, cost Americans more than $80 billion.

“Over 90 percent of people suffering from stress or stress-related problems seek help through primary care and tend to be frequent healthcare utilizers. These visits can comprise as much as 70 percent of physicians' caseloads. In addition, more than 80 percent of patients presenting to general practice evidence lack of resiliency and psychological stress.”

Teaching patients how to use relaxation techniques is an excellent way to reduce physicians’ caseloads, lessen the overall burden on the healthcare system, save money, and provide non-interventional solutions to physical problems that are safe and effective.

“Our results indicate that mind body interventions can reduce individual disease burden as well as the utilization of healthcare resources and are well suited to the changing healthcare environment… Mind body interventions are inexpensive relative to the cost of an emergency room visit, a hospitalization, or even other complementary and alternative medicine therapies.”

Sounds like it’s time to dust off the old yoga mat or sign up for that class you’ve been meaning to take at the meditation center! You might as well start now, rather than waiting till your personal health reaches a crisis point.

Tags: Health | Health Care | Yoga


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