New Study Finds Yoga and Meditation Reduce Healthcare Costs

November 3, 2015    BY Yoga International

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, and regular yoga practice might just do the same. Recent scientific research published the journal PLOS one suggests that people who practice relaxation methods are 43 percent less likely to head to the hospital or to require emergency care or physician-requested medical testing than those who do not.

The study’s abstract acknowledges a long held sentiment in the yoga-world: That most illnesses are born of stress. Specifically, it mentions that stress-related illnesses have been “the third highest cause of healthcare expenditures after heart disease and cancer.” Physical manifestations of stress mentioned in the study include headaches, back pain, insomnia, gastroesophageal reflux disease, irritable bowel, and chest discomfort (and in fact, according to the study, these were also mentioned as the most frequent symptoms accounted for by those seeking medical attention).

Researchers analyzed 4,000 medical records, taken from 2006-2014, detailing the treatment of patients whom, at the behest of their doctors, sought relaxation techniques as additional forms of treatment (such as Tai Chi, meditation, and yoga.) For comparison, they also analyzed 13,000 medical records of patients whose doctors did not recommend mind-body techniques. The researchers analysis attempted to measure the effects of “mind body medicine” as a preventative measure—“mind body medicine” being something, they state, which “focuses on the relationships between the mind and body, and on the effects changes in physiology and behavior have on health and disease.” Specifically, the researchers were curious to see what effects these mind-body techniques could have on reducing healthcare utilization and costs.

"Mind-body medicine interventions are inexpensive relative to the cost of an emergency room visit, a hospitalization, or even other complementary and alternative medicine therapies," notes the study. And in fact, research concluded that practitioners of mind-body techniques would save a whopping $2,360 annually on medical expenses.

Seems like a fair case for a consistent yoga practice, no?

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