Meditation May Reduce Stress and Improve Health

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: Barbara K. Hecht, PhD

A simple technique practiced for as few as 10 minutes per day can help you control stress, decrease anxiety, improve cardiovascular health, and achieve a greater capacity for relaxation.

The meditative technique called the "relaxation response" was pioneered in the U.S. by Harvard physician Herbert Benson in the 1970s. The technique has gained acceptance by physicians and therapists worldwide as a valuable adjunct to therapy for symptom relief in conditions ranging from cancer to AIDS.

When our bodies are exposed to a sudden stress or threat, we respond with a characteristic "fight or flight" response. This is sometimes called an "adrenaline rush" because the hormones epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine are released from the adrenal glands, resulting in an increase in blood pressure and pulse rate, faster breathing, and increased blood flow to the muscles.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/1/2014