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Yoga & meditation

Think yoga and meditation are just feel-good fads with little long-term value? New statistics show you may be in the minority. As these practices gain popularity among Americans, yoga and meditation are increasingly being used as complementary medicine – health and wellness practices that are used alongside conventional medical care.

A Trend in Complementary Medicine

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, more Americans are turning to these forms of complementary medicine. In a recent report, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health stated that more than 30 percent of US adults and about 12 percent of children use “healthcare approaches that are not typically part of conventional medical care or that may have origins outside of usual Western practices.”

It’s worth noting that complementary medicine is not always an appropriate substitute for conventional medical treatment; however, the long-term health benefits of yoga and meditation have been well documented by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Research suggests that meditation, for example, can help with medical problems like high blood pressure and irritable bowel syndrome, as well as mental health issues such as anxiety, insomnia and depression.

As this information spreads and the benefits of these practices becomes more well-known, it’s not surprising that their popularity continues to grow.

“Many people turn to complementary health approaches, such as yoga and meditation, in order to help with symptom management, such as pain,” said Richard Nahin, lead epidemiologist at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “As well, they turn to these approaches for a general sense of wellbeing.” Nahin co-authored the report, which was compiled using data from the National Center for Health Statistics’ National Health Interview Survey. The report examined the use of yoga, meditation and chiropractors between 2012 and 2017.

According to the report, the practice of yoga rose from 3.1 percent of the overall child population in 2012 to 8.4 percent in 2017 and from 9.5 percent to 14.3 percent in adults. That equates to about 4.9 million children and 35.2 million adults practicing yoga in 2017.

Meditation increased from 0.6 percent of children in 2012 to 5.4 percent in 2017 and from 4.1 percent of adults in 2012 to 14.2 percent in 2017.

Other key findings from the report:

  • More females are doing yoga in both age groups in 2017: 11.3% of girls vs 5.6% of boys; 19.8% of women vs 8.6% of men.
  • Among children, those between 12 and 17 were more likely to meditate or visit a chiropractor.
  • For adults, yoga was more popular with those between 18 and 44 years old. Meditation and chiropractors appeared to be more popular among older adults (those in the 45-64 age range).
  • Racially, white non-Hispanics were most likely to use all three methods in both children and adults.

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