Relaxation-response techniques, such as meditation, yoga, and prayer, could reduce the need for health care services by 43 percent, according to a study at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) that looked at participants in a relaxation-response-focused training program.
Previous studies have shown that eliciting the relaxation response — a physiologic state of deep rest — not only relieves stress and anxiety, but also affects physiologic factors such as blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen consumption.
The paper’s authors noted that stress-related illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, are the third-highest causes of health expenditures in the United States after heart disease and cancer (which also are affected by stress).
In a study published online by the journal Archives of Dermatology, researchers found that vigorous activity reduced the risk of women developing psoriasis by as much as 25 or 30 percent, compared with the women in the study who exercised least.
Psoriasis is a common condition afflicting 7.5 million Americans and 125 million people worldwide. It is non-contagious and is characterized by skin that is red and irritated and that in many cases develops flaky, silver-white patches. The condition not only can be itchy and painful but can also cause the skin to crack and bleed. About one-fifth of cases involve psoriatic arthritis, a condition that can involve significant joint damage.