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Meditate for Your Heart

By Tony Horton, creator of P90X®
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A recent study of adolescents with high blood pressure found that those teens who practiced transcendental meditation for 8 months improved the ability of their blood vessels to relax and dilate by 21 percent. That's about the same improvement expected from taking antihypertensive drugs.


Dr. Vernon A. Barnes is a physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia's Georgia Prevention Institute and the lead investigator on the study. Researchers concluded that 15 minutes of transcendental meditation twice a day steadily lowered the blood pressures of 156 inner-city adolescents, with levels tending to stay that way.

Heart"Our blood vessels are not rigid pipes," says Dr. Barnes. "They need to dilate and constrict, according to the needs of the body. If this improvement in the ability to dilate can be replicated in other at-risk groups and cardiovascular disease patients, this could have important implications for [the] inclusion of meditation programs to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease and its clinical consequences."

"Change can't be expected overnight," Dr. Barnes says. "Meditation and other positive lifestyle habits such as exercising and eating right have to become part of your life, like brushing your teeth."

Since heart and cardiovascular disease are such a serious problem in the U.S., the encouraging results of this study and others like it have prompted researchers to begin long-term studies to determine the long-term impact of meditation on heart disease risk.

P90X®The obesity epidemic in the United States is probably the main contributor to increasing blood pressure rates in children. But obesity appears to be part of an unhealthy cycle wherein the stresses of everyday life, such as poverty and feeling unsafe at home, contribute to bad habits like overeating and/or eating high-fat comfort foods and not exercising. Stress can also lead to sleep problems, preventing the body—and blood pressure—from resting and recovering. Meditation is one of the best tools against stress we can use. (In fact, my P90X® program dedicates an entire workout to yoga—Yoga X.)

As with all lifestyle changes, the full benefits of meditating can take a while to really show up. Likewise, along with other healthy choices like a good diet and an exercise program, like Power 90® and 10-Minute Trainer®, an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure every time.

Meditation is free, chills out your stress, and has no negative side effects. So get quiet, shut out the world, and give a nice, soothing "Ohmmmmmm." Your heart (and your nerves) will thank you.

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