If you're feeling exhausted, a new study suggests giving meditation a try. Even meditating for a few minutes a day has been found to boost the activity of genes that promote good health.
"It's not New Age nonsense," Herbert Benson of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston told New Scientist in a report published May 2.
Benson and his team analyzed the gene profiles of 26 volunteers, none of whom meditated regularly, before coaching them on a 10- to 20-minute relaxation technique. The daily routine included reciting words, breathing exercises, and "attempts to exclude everyday thought," reports New Scientist.
Eight weeks later, the researchers analyzed the subjects' gene profiles again, and found that some beneficial genes had become more active, while more harmful genes less so.
According to the report, some of the benefits of the "boosted genes" were an increase in insulin production, which improves control of blood sugar, as well as improvement in the efficiency of the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cells.
The harmful genes that became less active included those which trigger chronic inflammation in the body, which can lead to a host of serious health problems. Findings appear online in the journal PLoS One.
A separate study on mindfulness meditation found that focusing on the present, or being mindful, can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Findings were published last month in the journal Health Psychology.