How Meditation and Yoga are Affecting the Health of Americans

Yoga and meditation have both been practiced for thousands of years. And modern science is starting to discover the health benefits that practitioners have been experiencing for generations, such as how yoga and meditation can reduce chronic pain, lower your risk of heart disease†and even increase the grey matter in your brain.

In the past few decades, more people have started practicing yoga and meditation than ever before. decided to find out whether or not this is affecting the health of Americans in a real way.

They examined the Centers for Disease Controlís 2017 National Health Interview Survey and compared the wellness statistics of those who practice yoga and meditation to those who do not. Their review revealed some striking differences between the two groups.

WHO PRACTICES YOGA AND MEDITATION? first looked at which demographic groups practice the most yoga and meditation. They found that overall, 14 percent of Americans practice yoga, and 6 percent practice meditation regularly. And about twice as many women practice as men.

Also, age was inversely related to yoga and meditation practice. Baby boomers were the least likely to do either practice. Whereas, twice as many millennials did yoga compared to their baby boomer counterparts, and millennials were 50 percent more likely to practice meditation. The survey didnít delve into the reasons why there might be such a discrepancy between the generations.

Related: 5 Ways Mindfulness Meditation Could Make Your Life Better


Nearly 40 percent of the US population is obese. This is a disturbing statistic, considering that obesity increases your risk of many chronic and life-threatening diseases, such as stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancers.

FitRated.comís review showed that those who practice both yoga and meditation have a lower body mass index (BMI). Interestingly, those who practice only meditation have about the same obesity rates as those who do not practice anything. The benefits were only seen for those who practice either only yoga, or both yoga and meditation.

Age also made a difference. As we already found out, millennials practice the most yoga and meditation. Overall, they also have the lowest BMI scores. But yoga and meditation have the greatest impact on the BMI of baby boomers. Those who practice yoga and meditation had 17 percent lower BMI scores than those who do not.


physical ailments

The review also highlighted how those who practice yoga and meditation have fewer physical ailments than non-practitioners. In fact, almost twice as many yoga and meditation practitioners reported being in better health than in the previous year.

One exception to this was the finding that those who practiced only meditation actually had more physical ailments overall. Rather than showing that mediation is bad for you, this statistic most likely shows how people with chronic disease are using meditation to help manage their symptoms. Research has shown that meditation can help relieve chronic pain, high blood pressure, anxiety and many other symptoms related to chronic disease.

Although, practicing meditation or yoga alone still reduced the rates of certain chronic diseases, such as hypertension and arthritis. And practicing them together had the greatest overall reduction of disease incidence.


mental health

Meditation has been proven to help relieve certain mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. In a review of 47 different research studies, researchers at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine concluded that ďmeditation appeared to provide as much relief from some anxiety and depression symptoms as what other studies have found from antidepressants.Ē

Similar reviews have found yoga also benefits depression, anxiety and stress-related illness. The evidence is clear, yet FitRated.comís review of the CDC survey had contradictory results.

Their review showed that those who meditate and practice yoga were in fact more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety or another emotional problem. Why was this different than other research findings? Itís likely revealing a trend that people who are suffering from depression or anxiety are turning to meditation and yoga for help.

What the statistics donít tell us is whether or not those who are struggling with depression and anxiety are finding benefits from their yoga or meditation practice. A more telling statistic would be if the same people were surveyed again after a few years of regular practice. Science suggests those same people would say theyíve had a noticeable improvement in their symptoms.

Related on Care2


Patrice Z
Patrice Z15 hours ago

Interesting article. Thanks for sharing.

Hannah A
Hannah A19 hours ago


Barbara S
Barbara S1 days ago


Isabel A
Isabel A3 days ago

thanks for posting

Shaz R
Shazsick R5 days ago

I have anxiety and depression. I am considering meditation. Thank you.

danii p
danii p6 days ago

thanks for sharing

danii p
danii p6 days ago

thanks for sharing

danii p
danii p6 days ago

thanks for sharing

Mike R
Mike R6 days ago


Gabriel C
Gabriel C8 days ago

Thank you