Growth in Yoga and Meditation Practice

More Americans turn to mind-body activities.

By Shirley Archer, JD, MA
Feb 11, 2019

Americans continue to turn to yoga and meditation as leading ways to improve health, according to data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). In 2017, yoga was the most commonly used complementary health approach, practiced by 14.3% of American adults (35.2 million). This represents an increase of almost 13 million practitioners since 2012. Meditation was the second most popular complementary health practice, used by 14.2% of adults. In growth, however, meditation outpaced yoga, with participation more than tripling from 2012 (4.1%).

Data from the NHIS showed that women were more than twice as likely to practice yoga as men in 2017. Men were more involved in meditation (11.8%), but still not as much as women (16.3%).

“The 2017 NHIS survey is the most current and reliable source of information on the use of specific complementary health approaches by U.S. adults and children. The survey data suggest that more people are turning to mind and body approaches than ever before,” said David Shurtleff, PhD, acting director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

For more information, see the November 2018 NCHS Data Brief, No. 325.

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Shirley Archer, JD, MA

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