Age Gracefully with Meditation

Magical elixirs, creams and other aging antidotes can cost you a small fortune—and let’s face it, most don’t even work. Fortunately, there is an effective stay-young strategy that’s simple and free. You will most definitely want to add this one to your anti-aging arsenal: Meditation.

In a new study from the University of Zaragoza in Spain, researchers compared 20 people who had been meditating for at least an hour each day over the last 10 years with 20 people who had never meditated. The researchers measured the length of participants’ telomeres, the caps that protect chromosomes during cell division. Telomeres shorten as a cell ages, so longer telomeres indicate slower cellular aging. They also measured several psychological markers that may be related to cellular aging.

Meditators were found to have significantly longer telomeres, indicating their cells aged more slowly than those who had never meditated. The researchers also found that longer telomeres were associated with an increase in self-compassion and a decrease in the tendency to suppress painful thoughts and emotions.

Meditation may also help slow aging by countering the effects of stress. Another recent study found that when exposed to psychological and chemical stressors, seasoned meditators had a reduced inflammatory and stress response compared to non-meditators.

While more research is needed to confirm the anti-aging benefits of a zen lifestyle, there’s no downside so why not give it a try? At the very least, the practice gives you a chance to step back from a hectic day and relax.