Although centuries old, the practice of mindfulness has become trendy during the past decade and is used to help treat various conditions.
A new study is now suggesting it can lower blood pressure and potentially instill other heart-healthy habits in people who learn to use it.
Mindfulness training aims to enhance people’s self-awareness of their thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations by teaching them to pay attention to their responses.
For example, it can help people receive and acknowledge how they feel after making good choices. In the case of this recent study, it focused on choices that could improve blood pressure.
The study featured about 100 participants that participated in an eight-week customized mindfulness program focused on lowering blood pressure. After the trial, researchers found that mindfulness helped lower systolic blood pressure by an average of six points.
At this point, the results have been presented but are still preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The impact of mindfulness could be important to a person’s health because previous work has found that a five-point reduction in systolic blood pressure may translate into a 10-percent lower risk for a heart attack or stroke.
The mindfulness training helped people focus on how they felt when they engaged in behavior known to influence heart health, like physical activity, diet, antihypertensive medication, and alcohol consumption.
Because most people feel good after physical activity, eating healthy, and drinking in moderation or abstaining from alcohol, teaching participants how to be conscious of that feeling appeared to help instill the positive benefits, which, for many, were being continued during the six-month follow-up period.
Noticing how you feel, and acting skillfully to continue to feel good, seemed to enable people to adhere to a more heart-healthy lifestyle. People who practiced mindfulness were more likely to eat a healthy diet, exercise more, be less sedentary, and refrain from regularly indulging in unhealthy food options.
Trying mindfulness may help you adapt habits that encourage better heart health.