Friday, August 3, 2012
MINDFULNESS COMBATS LONELINESS AND BOOSTS IMMUNE SYSTEM
The American comedian and writer Groucho Marx (pictured left) said it all in an interview in 1970—after three failed marriages:
'I've tried being single. It doesn't work. You sit at a table alone, eating.'
Well, Groucho, a new study has found that mindfulness meditation can help older adults battle feelings of loneliness while also boosting health.
The study, published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, has shown that 8 weeks of training in mindfulness meditation (a total of 2.5 hours a week) is linked with decreased loneliness.
The study included 40 participants aged between 55 and 85, some of whom participated in the 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training program.
‘We always tell people to quit smoking for health reasons, but rarely do we think about loneliness in the same way,’ said study lead J David Creswell (pictured right). ‘We know that loneliness is a major risk factor for health problems and mortality in older adults,’ Creswell said, adding that the research suggests that mindfulness meditation training could be ‘a promising intervention for improving the health of older adults.’
Using blood samples collected, the researchers also found that the older adult sample had elevated pro-inflammatory gene expression in their immune cells at the beginning of the study and that the MBSR reduced this pro-inflammatory gene expression, which the researchers said could ‘reduce older adults' inflammatory disease risk.’
Resource: Creswell, JD, Irwin, MR, Burklund, LJ, Lieberman, MD, Arevalo, J, Ma, J, Breen, E, & Cole, S. ‘Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction training reduces loneliness and pro-inflammatory gene expression in older adults: a small randomized controlled trial.’ Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. Available online 20 July 2012.