October 23, 2014
Science Daily/Brown University
A new study that measured 'dispositional mindfulness' along with seven indicators of cardiovascular health found that persons reporting higher degrees of awareness of their present feelings and experiences had better health. The research suggests that interventions to improve mindfulness could benefit cardiovascular health, an idea researchers can test.
As noted more precisely in a new study in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, researchers at Brown University found a significant association between self-reported "dispositional mindfulness" and better scores on four of seven cardiovascular health indicators, as well as a composite overall health score. Dispositional mindfulness is defined as someone's awareness and attention to what they are thinking and feeling in the moment.
The study is the first to quantify such an association between mindfulness and better cardiovascular health, said study lead author Eric Loucks, assistant professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health. It's an encouraging link for health promotion, because mindfulness can be enhanced with training.
"Mindfulness is changeable, and standardized mindfulness interventions are available," Loucks said. "Mostly they've been looked at for mental health and pain management, but increasingly they are being looked at for cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, smoking, and blood pressure."
The connection may come about because people who are attuned to their present feelings may be better at minding and managing the various cravings -- for salty or sugary foods or cigarettes or even a spell on the couch -- that undermine health, Loucks said. Mindfulness interventions, for example, have already shown efficacy in helping people to quit smoking.