Meditation Can Regular Meditation Help You Live Longer? By Sharon Basaraba Sharon Basaraba Twitter Sharon Basaraba is an award-winning reporter and senior scientific communications advisor for Alberta Health Services in Alberta, Canada. Learn about our editorial process Updated on February 25, 2020 Reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by mental health professionals. Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Sara Clark Reviewed by Sara Clark Facebook Sara Clark is an EYT 500-hour certified Vinyasa yoga and mindfulness teacher, lululemon Global Yoga Ambassador, model, and writer. Learn about our Review Board Print Hero Images/Getty Images Meditation is the practice of quieting the mind and focusing inwardly for a set period of time. It is an ancient practice that has gained modern credibility as a powerful way to reduce stress, promote relaxation and boost memory, concentration, and mood, but can it actually help you live a longer life? Scientific evidence suggests regular meditation can improve psychological conditions like anxiety and depression, which in turn can affect mortality. Meditation has been proven to bolster the immune system and reduce levels of cortisol, known as the stress hormone. Elevated levels of cortisol are linked to higher mortality through heart-related conditions, such as atherosclerosis and metabolic syndrome. Research suggests that regular meditation may result in fewer visits to the doctor and shorter hospital stays. Even dangerous abdominal fat may be reduced with regular meditation, according to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Obesity. Research A review of two randomized controlled trials was published in The American Journal of Cardiology and was aimed at examining the effects of meditation specifically on mortality. The first group included participants with mild hypertension (high blood pressure) who lived in an elderly residence with an average age of 81 years; the second group included community-dwelling older adults with an average age of 67 years. Participants were split into groups and given instruction in either Transcendental Meditation, mindfulness meditation, mental relaxation, or progressive muscle relaxation techniques. The control group participants were offered general health education classes. Transcendental Meditation (TM) is described as a simple technique that involves sitting comfortably with the eyes closed for 15 to 20 minutes per session, twice a day, to achieve a state of “restful alertness.” Mindfulness meditation training focuses on breathing and observing thoughts dispassionately as they arise in the mind. Study subjects using mental relaxation techniques were encouraged to repeat a phrase or verse to themselves during each session. Finally, subjects using progressive muscle relaxation were coached to gradually let go of tension in each major muscle group to promote an overall state of calm. Participants were evaluated after three months. The Transcendental Meditation groups from both trials reported significantly lower blood pressure than the other meditation and control groups, but it’s the long-term data that is most fascinating. The researchers followed up on the original trials to determine the vital status of the participants, which was obtained from the National Death Index maintained by the National Center for Health Statistics. Of the 202 subjects in the original two clinical trials, 101 had died on follow-up. These mortalities were coded based on the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9) to determine the cause of death. The results revealed that after an average of 7.6 years (up to a maximum of almost 19 years), the subjects practicing TM were 23% less likely to die of any cause during that period and 30% less likely to die of cardiovascular disease during the same period. Subjects were also 49% less likely to die of cancer during the follow-up period. Longevity The authors of the review suggest that the benefits of meditation are almost as good as those resulting from drug therapy for hypertension, without the side effects, though they do not recommend using meditation instead of medication proved to lower high blood pressure. According to the authors, this is the first long-term analysis of the effect of non-drug therapies on the mortality rate for people with elevated blood pressure. Two important questions remain: Will meditation improve longevity for people with normal blood pressure? and Which type of relaxation or meditation technique provides the greatest longevity benefit? Though future research might answer these questions with greater certainty, many are happily satisfied with the boosts of energy and well-being that meditation offers in the short-term. Get started and try to incorporate a regular meditation practice into your own life. Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Pan A, Lucas M, Sun Q, van Dam RM, Franco OH, Willett WC, Manson JE, Rexrode KM, Ascherio A, Hu FB. “Increased mortality risk in women with depression and diabetes mellitus.” Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2011 Jan;68(1):42-50.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3081788/?tool=pubmed Paul-Labrador M, Polk D, Dwyer JH, Velasquez I, Nidich S, Rainforth M, Schneider R, Merz CN. "Effects of a Randomized Controlled Trial of Transcendental Meditation on Components of the Metabolic Syndrome in Subjects with Coronary Heart Disease." Archives of Internal Medicine June 12, 2006. Ravishankar Jayadevappa et al. Effectiveness of Transcendental Meditation on Functional Capacity and Quality of Life of African Americans with Congestive Heart Failure: A Randomized Control Study." Ethn Dis. 2007; 17(1): 72–77. Robert H. Schneider et al. “Long-Term Effects of Stress Reduction on Mortality in Persons ≥55 Years of Age With Systemic Hypertension.” Am J Cardiol. 2005 May 1; 95(9): 1060–1064.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1482831/ Tony Nader. Stuart Rothenberg, Richard Averbach, Barry Charles, Jeremy Z. Fields, and Robert H. Schneider. “Improvements in Chronic Diseases With a Comprehensive Natural Medicine Approach: A Review and Case Series .” Behav Med. 2000; 26(1): 34–46.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2408890/ By Sharon Basaraba Sharon Basaraba is an award-winning reporter and senior scientific communications advisor for Alberta Health Services in Alberta, Canada. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.