Is the practice of yoga or meditation associated with a healthy lifestyle? Results of a national cross-sectional survey of 28,695 Australian women

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 2017, 101 pp. 104 - 109
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© 2017 Elsevier Inc. Objectives To examine the relationship between yoga/meditation practice and health behavior in Australian women. Methods Women aged 19–25 years, 31–36 years, and 62–67 years from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH) were surveyed regarding smoking, alcohol or drug use, physical activity and dietary behavior; and whether they practiced yoga/meditation on a regular basis. Associations of health behaviors with yoga/meditation practice were analyzed using multiple logistic regression modelling. Results 11,344, 8200, and 9151 women aged 19–25 years, 31–36 years, and 62–67 years, respectively, were included of which 29.0%, 21.7%, and 20.7%, respectively, practiced yoga/meditation. Women practicing yoga/meditation were significantly more likely to report at least moderate physical activity levels (OR = 1.50–2.79), to follow a vegetarian (OR = 1.67–3.22) or vegan (OR = 2.26–3.68) diet, and to report the use of marijuana (OR = 1.28–1.89) and illicit drugs in the last 12 months (OR = 1.23–1.98). Conclusions Yoga/meditation practice was associated with higher physical activity levels, a higher likelihood of vegetarian or vegan diet use, and a higher likelihood of drug use. While health professionals should keep the potential vulnerability of yoga/meditation practitioners to drug use in mind, the positive associations of yoga/meditation with a variety of positive health behaviors warrant its consideration in preventive medicine and healthcare.
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