Virginia Guest Blogs: Top 10 Benefits of Meditation!

By Virginia Cunningham

When we get sick, we know doctors can offer us medicine to cure us physically. But Health Psychology tells us we need to consider the mind as well. A depressed person is much more likely to develop a cold. Extra stress at work can lead to high blood pressure. If your mind can influence your illness then it stands to reason that improving your health should start with something that targets the mind AND the body. Meditation is one such vehicle with proven benefits for both body and mind.

Here are the top 10 ways that meditation benefits the mind and the body:



1. Boosted Immunity

A poor immune systems leaves you at risk to get sick from the bacteria and viruses that your body is exposed to everyday. According to research, meditation has shown great results in boosting immunity.

2. Increased Fertility

For those who are having trouble getting pregnant, or simply want to boost their chances, meditation can be just the thing. Just 30 minutes of calming meditation a day can alter the chemistry in your brain resulting in higher fertility.

3. Lowers Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is connected to many different health issues, including strokes, and it is even affected by stress. Meditation can make its mark on your body by lowering your blood pressure. If you’re in the danger zone for blood pressure, consider adding a few minutes of mediation to your daily schedule –  even just ten minutes can make a big difference.

4. Helps Prevent Heart Disease

Heart disease is one of the most common causes of death, and is also worsened by high levels of stress. In order to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, or stroke, the American Heart Association recommends 20-30 minutes of meditation to relieve yourself of the stress that can egg on these health issues.

5. Pain Management

Whether you have a sport’s related knee injury or chronic back pain, regular pain can affect your life negatively. Relying solely on medication to deal with the pain can become addictive and is dangerous for your health. Try meditating a few times a week, and you will likely find a large reduction in your daily pain.




6. Endorphins

Endorphins are basically the brain’s natural high. The pituitary gland sends neurotransmitters to the body which are like happiness signals. Usually, endorphins are produced during exercise like running, but meditation has also been proven to increase the production of endorphins in the body, which reduces stress and controls cravings,

7. Enhances Memory

As you get older, you become more forgetful.  The results of meditation are high in memory improvement and a longer attention span. It only takes 20 minutes a few times a week to get a stronger memory.

8. Fights Depression

If you’re fighting depression and don’t want to become reliant on medication, meditation might be for you. Not only does it release endorphins, it can also reduce the stress and positively affect your brain chemistry.

9. Better Brain Function

Don’t we all wish that our brains were always at the top of our game? Meditation has the potential to increase your quick thinking abilities, which assists you when taking tests, facing a crisis at work, or even just completing a puzzle.

10. De-Stressor

When not dealt with, stress can rule your life and cause a plethora of health issues. The calming atmosphere of meditation and the few minutes you take to rid your mind of negative thoughts can make a world of difference.

Want to get the most out of meditation?

A great way to enhance your meditation experience is by creating a room solely devoted to that. By adding some greenery, a water wall, or even just calming music, you can greatly change the way that stress affects your health. Your room does not have to be fancy–just make sure that it’s only purpose is for meditation.

While meditation is not a replacement for a doctor’s care, it can do a lot to prevent further health problems. It only takes a few minutes a day to see results in your overall health. When you start meditating before your health problems take control of your life, you are better able to actively fight for better health.


Virginia Cunningham is a freelance writer and yoga enthusiast based out of Los Angeles. With the stresses of life that can so easily build up, she enjoys practicing yoga and meditation daily to combat these problems. 

Ken Guest Blogs: Hit Up the Gym with a Partner!

Ken Huang, one of Dr. T’s Health Psychology students, guest blogs again!:

A recent study found that female participants who exercised with a workout partner exercised better than when alone. According to the research, when paired up with a stronger partner, participants exercised much longer, and felt no more tired than solo participants who actually exercised for less time. Researchers also found that these benefits applied even when participants exercised with a virtual partner. They saw a looping video of another person exercising and were told that the virtual partner had exercised 40 percent longer than they did. After receiving this news, participants nearly doubled the time they spent biking!
Although the study tested women, past research indicates that this effect is true in male-female and male-male studies as well (and these effects extend into other behaviors beyond just exercise). Researchers think that the effects stem from our tendency to model our behavior based on those around us. If we see others doing well/making better choices, we are that much more motivated to do the same. So next time you’re feeling unmotivated to exercise — grab a partner, especially one who is a great exerciser!

Melissa Guest Blogs: A longer nose leads to poorer health?

Melissa Chaung, one of Dr. T’s Health Psychology students, guest blogs again!:

Only if you’re Pinocchio that is! But yes, people always say that “Honesty is the best policy,” and a recent study at the University of Notre Dame has found some support for that claim. It turns out that being honest could be linked to positive side effects for our health. Researchers assigned one group of participants to try their best to not tell lies during the course of the study while the other group was not given any directions about lying except that they had to document any lies they told each week. This study lasted for ten weeks. Results showed that both groups decreased in the number of lies they told each week; however, the group that was specifically told not to lie reported fewer mental health and physical complaints compared to the control group. The experimental group also reported having better personal relationships and social interactions. So even though it may not make your nose smaller, sticking to the truth has positive ramifications for your social life and even your health.

Haley Guest Blogs: Rub it in!

This Guest Blog Post is from Haley McNamara, one of Dr. T’s Health Psychology students:

With temperatures rising and summer approaching in southern California, sunscreen is an important, yet widely misunderstood topic. What exactly is SPF? According to this article from The New York Times, solar rays come in two equally dangerous forms: UVA and UVB. SPF, or sun protection factor, only describes the amount of protection from UVB rays. Sunscreen labels can be even more misleading; because the amount of sunscreen applied in product testing can be up to twice as much as a typical consumer would apply. Any product, “above an SPF of 30, which can block 97 percent of UVB (if used in testing amounts), effectiveness increases by only 1 or 2 percent. In the way that sunscreens are used in the real world, then, a product with an SPF of 30 actually provides the protection of SPF 2.3 to 5.5.” Despite the belief that sunscreen can actually cause skin cancer, there is no evidence to support this claim, so sunscreen should be an integral part of any skin care routine. Medical professionals suggest applying a broad spectrum SPF of 30 – 50 every two hours during sun exposure. Staying clear of the afternoon sun is generally the best course of action, but if it is unavoidable, bring with you hats, umbrellas, and protective clothing. And while you might love your bronzed skin, you won’t feel so sexy with sun damage or skin cancer.

Connie Guest Blogs: The more you remember the less you eat

Connie Liuone of Dr. T’s Health Psychology students, guest blogs again!:

Much like Angela’s blog post from December, this recent research claims that an attentive memory for what is eaten could help people eat less at their next meals. Previously, it has been shown that distractions can lead to eating more than necessary by disrupting a person’s ability to notice the pleasure of the food going in. By manipulating subject’s attention on food, the current studies found that enhancing memory of food intake reduced later food consumption. A vivid memory of a filling and satisfying meal might further inhibit future food intake. So to help you remember your meals and avoid overeating later, try to eliminate disruptions while you eat, including TV and computer!

Danni Guest Blogs: A Glass of Red Wine, OK

Danni Ji, one of Dr. T’s Health Psychology students, guest blogs again!:

Past research has been unclear on the direct benefits of resveratrol, a compound found in red wine. Does it really have benefits on our health and prolong lifespan? Researchers have now confirmed that it indeed does, by improving energy production and overall health in cells via sirtuins (genes that promote mitochondrial function). Resveratrol seems to increase one’s life-span and well-being by enhancing metabolic activity and energy production in the mitochondria. So drink up, but only in moderation, of course, and keep it classy!


Chloe Guest Blogs: Feeling the ‘burn’

This Guest Blog is from Chloe Tagawa, one of Dr. T’s Health Psychology students:

No not the burn from working out; we’re talking about job burnout, which results from “high stress, heavy workload, a lack of control over job situations, a lack of emotional support, and long work hours.” A study at Tel Aviv University has found a link between job burnout and coronary heart disease (CHD). Researchers found that people who were in the top 20% of the burnout scale had an increased risk of CHD, by about 79%. While some of these factors are physically taxing, they wear on the body emotionally, as well. Of the 8, 838 participants who had routine health examinations for 3.4 years, there were 93 new cases of CHD at follow-up. This was associated with a 40% increased risk of CHD for those who experienced burnout. Researchers suggest taking action such as exercise, getting substantial sleep, and seeking psychotherapy, to combat the effects of job burnout.

Krishna Guest Blogs: Dance for Health

This Guest Blog Post is from Krishna Mehta, one of Dr. T’s Health Psychology students:

Cardiovascular Disease is unfortunately the leading cause of death, especially among Hispanics and African Americans. So researcher Rosemary Flores decided to explore a new way to help young Hispanic and African American students improve attitudes towards physical activity and fitness in general. She designed a program known as Dance for Health, which provides students with an enjoyable school based aerobic exercise program. Her research demonstrated that students who participated in this study, as opposed to students who participated in regular physical education, had a significantly greater increase in aerobic fitness, had reduced body weight, and, as mentioned earlier, had a more positive attitude towards physical activity. However, the Dance for Health program was more effective on girls than boys. In the end though, the program was able to improve the health of the majority of students, and these findings offer strong support for implementing Dance for Health in more school districts. Read more about it here.


Amanda Guest Blogs: Somebody to lean on

This Guest Blog Post is from Amanda Walbridge, one of Dr. T’s Health Psychology students:

Just how much of an effect can our peers have on our health? This research has shown that people with high levels of peer social support have a significantly lower risk of mortality than those who don’t. However, the extent of the effects of peer social support on risk of mortality varied based on age. Peer social support had greater effects for those who were between 38 to 43 years old; anyone who was below 38 or above 43 did not experience significant health benefits from high levels of peer social support.  Research has also shown an interaction between levels of control and risk of mortality between men and women.  Higher levels of control resulted in decreased risk of mortality for men, but resulted in increased risk of mortality for women.  These results suggest that optimal work environments vary based on age and gender.

Isaac Guest Blogs: Are final exams bad for our health?

The Guest Blog Post is from Isaac Park, one of Dr. T’s Health Psych Students:

Finals are almost here at UCLA, and this is a hectic time when everyone’s diet, exercise regimen, and healthy lifestyle initiatives take a tailspin. This recent study investigated just this, looking at the effects of academic stress on health behavior in students. 180 students participated in either an exam stress group or a control group. Afterwards, they completed questionnaires about behaviors and stress. Results indicated that in the stress group smoking increased 54.7% and physical activity decreased. Also, alcohol consumption increased by 17% for individuals low in social support. This study ultimately shows how academic stress may play a major role in a student’s health behaviors, so for all of you preparing for the stressful week ahead, try to be conscious of your unhealthy stress management behaviors.