Is meditation the key to curbing your cold?

Caroline Cassidy

The season of sniffles is already upon us but if you haven't already succumbed to the dreaded colds and flu, it could be worth trying a little meditation.

meditation could prevent colds
meditation could prevent colds

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According to new research, regular mindful meditation can not only help to stave off the winter lurgy but also shorten the duration should you catch the virus.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison divided 149 volunteers into three groups - one group performed mindful meditation for eight weeks, another went jogging regularly, while the third control group did neither. The participants' health was then monitored throughout the winter, from September to May.

The results showed that those who meditated missed 76 per cent fewer days at work during the winter than those in the control group, while those who exercised missed 48 per cent fewer days.

Meditators also endured a shorter or less severe cold, the duration of respiratory infections slashed by up to 50 per cent. For the joggers, that figure was 40 per cent.

Lead author Dr Bruce Barrett, whose report was published in the Annals of Family Medicine, said: "Nothing has previously been shown to prevent acute respiratory infections."

He added: "Flu shots are partially effective, but only work for three strains of flu each year. The apparent 40 to 50 per cent benefit of mindfulness training is a very important finding, as is the apparent 30 to 40 per cent benefit of exercise training. If this pans out in future research, the impact could be substantive indeed."

And since meditation has previously been shown to relieve stress, improve mood and boost immunity, it's got to be worth a try.

Do you meditate? Have you found that it improves your physical health as well as mental wellbeing? Leave your comments below...