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Is Meditation Better Than Exercise at Preventing the Cold and Flu?

Welcome to the Cold and Flu Season

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that influenza is most common during the fall and winter seasons with infections peaking between late November to March. It is estimated that annually approximately 35.5 million Americans will get a cold and 13 million will get the flu, with thousands of people dying from complications. Not only do these illnesses make you feel terrible, but they also account for $10 billion in medical expenses and $16 billion in lost earnings, annually. So, how can we prevent getting sick?

Preventative Measures are the Answer!
If you’re like us, with a busy schedule and never-ending to-do list, you tend to wait until the last minute to take action. And in the cold and flu season, we often find ourselves being one of those statistics. However, by taking preventative measures, we can increase our chances of staying healthy. Of course, we know that hand washing and regular exercise are excellent preventative measures, but have you considered meditation? 

Using Meditation to Strengthen Your Immune System

One study conducted by the University of Wisconsin showed that meditation may be more effective than exercise at preventing the cold and flu. They also found that if you do get sick, meditation effectively reduced symptom severity. Infante and colleagues found that compared to non-meditators, those with an established meditation practice had higher levels of B lymphocytes and natural killer cells, cells the body uses to protect itself from foreign invaders. Even in new meditators, Davidson and colleagues found similar benefits. They noted that compared to the control group, after an eight-week mindfulness meditation program they had increased immune responses to foreign invader cells. As additional research is conducted in the field of meditation and immunology, it seems very likely that we will continue to learn great things from this long-standing practice.

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