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Meditation May Reduce Loneliness and Markers of Inflammation

Regularly practicing meditation may reduce feelings of loneliness and actually reduce markers of inflammation in mature adults.

Loneliness is not just an emotional problem. Previous studies have shown that being lonely can increase markers of inflammation, and increase the risk of heart disease, the development of Alzheimer's and depression.

For this study, researchers recruited 40 adults between the ages of 55 and 85. Over the course of two months, half of the group participated in a mindfulness-based stress reduction meditation group while the other half served as a control and did not meditate.

The meditation group met for two hours every week and one full day retreat, where they were taught the breathing techniques and awareness methods of meditation. They then meditated for 30 minutes every day at home.

The researchers administered a loneliness scale test and a blood test to all of the participants at the onset and conclusion of the study. They found that the meditation group reported decreased feelings of loneliness. Additionally, their blood tests showed lower levels of inflammation and the expression inflammation-related genes.

The study was published in the October 2012 issue of Brain, Behavior and Immunity. It was conducted by researchers a tUCLS.

Other meditative exercises include tai chi and yoga, which have been linked in previous studies to easing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, helping with depression and insomnia, and alleviating knee joint pain.

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