By practicing transcendental meditation (TM) for at least 20 minutes per day, college students reduced their blood pressure, according to a study published in American Journal of Hypertension (2009; 22 , 1326–31).
Sanford I. Nidich, EdD, lead study author at the Center for Natural Medicine and Prevention, Maharishi University of Management Research Institute, Maharishi Vedic City, Iowa, sought to determine whether a mind-body program such as TM could reduce stress, lower blood pressure (BP) levels and improve coping ability in college students. Researchers recruited 298 students (207 completed the study) with an average age of just under 26 years from Washington, DC, area universities. Investigators randomly assigned about half the students to a TM group and the rest to a training wait-list. BP, psychological distress and coping ability were measured at baseline and 3 months later. The TM program consisted of meditating for 20 minutes twice a day, while sitting comfortably with eyes closed. Students who completed at least one session per day were considered adherent.
After 3 months, meditation group participants showed slight reductions in BP, whereas wait-list subjects showed slight increases in BP. Meditators had less overall mood disturbance, anxiety, depression, anger and hostility and better coping skills, compared with their own starting measures and with the wait-list group. Researchers evaluated a subgroup of students at risk for hypertension who had been randomly assigned to either group (115 completed the study). In this subgroup, significant improvements in mood and in stress reduction were found among those who practiced TM. Subgroup members also achieved significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic BP levels.
Researchers suggested that a TM program might reduce risk for future development of hypertension in young adults and that further research should be conducted.
To learn more about transcendental meditation or its use by students, go to the following websites: