Objectives: The increased popularity of mind-body practices highlights the need to explore their potential effects. We determined the cross-sectional association between mind-body practices and cardiometabolic risk factors.
Methods: We used data from 2579 participants free of cardiovascular disease from the Rotterdam Study (2009-2013). A structured home-based interview was used to evaluate engagement in mind-body practices including meditation, yoga, self-prayer, breathing exercises, or other forms of mind-body practice. We regressed engagement in mind-body practices on cardiometabolic risk factors (body mass index, blood pressure, and fasting blood levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose) and presence of metabolic syndrome. All analyses were adjusted for age, sex, educational level, smoking, alcohol consumption, (in)activities in daily living, grief, and depressive symptoms.
Results: Fifteen percent of the participants engaged in a form of mind-body practice. Those who did mind-body practices had significantly lower body mass index (β = -0.84 kg/m, 95% confidence interval [CI] = -1.30 to -0.38, p < .001), log-transformed triglyceride levels (β = -0.02, 95% CI = -0.04 to -0.001, p = .037), and log-transformed fasting glucose levels (β = -0.01, 95% CI = -0.02 to -0.004, p = .004). Metabolic syndrome was less common among individuals who engaged in mind-body practices (odds ratio = 0.71, 95% CI = 0.54-0.95, p = .019).
Conclusions: Individuals who do mind-body practices have a favorable cardiometabolic risk profile compared with those who do not. However, the cross-sectional design of this study does not allow for causal inference and prospective, and intervention studies are needed to elucidate the association between mind-body practices and cardiometabolic processes.