January 29, 2018
Workplace yoga and meditation can be more beneficial than we realise, as a study by Harvard scientists reveal.
Dr John Denninger a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, is leading a five year study on how the ancient practices affect genes and brain activity in the chronically stressed.
Many studies have been done on the benefits of workplace yoga and meditation, but only recently have neuro-imaging and genomics technology used in Denninger’s latest studies allowed scientists to measure physiological changes in greater detail.
“There is a true biological effect,” said Denninger, director of research at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, one of Harvard Medical School’s teaching hospitals. “The kinds of things that happen when you meditate do have effects throughout the body, not just in the brain.”
Stress-induced conditions can include everything from hypertension and infertility to depression and even the aging process. They account for 60 to 90 percent of doctor’s visits in the U.S., according to the Benson-Henry Institute. The World Health Organisation estimates stress costs U.S. workplaces approx. $300 billion a year through absenteeism, turn-over and low productivity – a huge incentive for workplaces to incorporate yoga and meditation programs for their staff.
The study by Denninger showed that one session of relaxation-response practice was enough to enhance the expression of genes involved in energy metabolism and insulin secretion and reduce expression of genes linked to inflammatory response and stress.
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