Holly Willoughby health: TV presenter’s morning health ritual – benefits of meditation

Holly Willoughby talks babysitting Bradley Walsh on new show

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“Morning meditation complete,” Holly Willoughby posted alongside a picture of herself on Instagram, “and breathing in the possibility of a new day”. Engaging in such a ritual could have more health benefits than one realises. The 40-year-old’s daily commitment to deep breathing can do marvellous things for her health. To begin with, the Mayo Clinic confirmed the mind-body practise can be viewed as “medicine”.

The National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (NIH) pointed out meditation “may reduce blood pressure”.

Supporting this notion was an investigation done by researchers at the School of Basic Medicine Sciences of Lanzhou University, China.

A meta-analysis of 12 studies included the data from 996 participants who reduced their blood pressure by meditating.

Specifically, meditation was found to lower systolic blood pressure, on average, by 4.26mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 2.33mmHg.

However, the researchers did note that one limitation of their analysis was that there was “a lack of information about study design”.

Lowering your blood pressure means you’re decreasing your risk of health complications, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke.

By lowering such health risks, you’re also increasing the likelihood of living a longer life.

Health experts at Einstein Medical Centre said that the available data – across the scientific community – suggests that meditation controls blood pressure by relaxing the nerve signals that co-ordinate heart function.

Known to be one stress-busting pastime, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, found that meditation can also decrease inflammation in the body – a big predictor of disease.

For the eight-week research study, some participants engaged in a mindfulness intervention.

All participants were then exposed to stressors and had capsaicin cream topically applied to their forearms.

Those who had engaged in the eight-week meditation programme reported less psychological distress and a “significantly” smaller inflammatory response to the topical cream.

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A post shared by Holly Willoughby (@hollywilloughby)

Another research study, published in the Sleep Research Society, found meditation could help people sleep better.

Those who meditated reportedly slept for longer and any symptoms of insomnia eased.

Health benefits of meditation

  1. May lower blood pressure
  2. May decrease risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke
  3. May live longer
  4. May reduce feelings of stress
  5. May reduce inflammation
  6. May improve sleep.

Headspace – a meditation app – also state that meditation:

  • Can improve focus
  • Improve relationships
  • Improve mood
  • Aid weight loss.

“Through meditation, we can build up areas of our brain and actually rewire it to enhance positive traits like focus and decision making,” said Headspace.

The daily practise is also said to “diminish fear and stress”, as well reduce irritability and improve self-compassion.

If you would like to start practising meditation but don’t know where to begin, you can start by downloading or visiting Headspace.

Meanwhile, BBC One’s Take Off with Bradley and Holly will air on Saturday, July 24 at 6pm.

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