Meditation can improve mental health and wellbeing but exercise may be just as ...

While 'mindfulness' was once a term only known by devoted yoga fans, the form of meditation has grown in popularity in recent years. 

Mindfulness involves sitting silently and focusing on your thoughts in the present moment, and is said to help reduce anxiety, stress and depression. 

Now, a study has warned that these mental health benefits don't work for everyone. 

Researchers from the University of Cambridge say that we shouldn't assume mindfulness works for everyone, and highlight that exercise may be just as effective for some.  

Researchers from the University of Cambridge say that we shouldn't assume mindfulness works for everyone, and highlight that exercise may be just as effective for some (stock image)

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Researchers from the University of Cambridge say that we shouldn't assume mindfulness works for everyone, and highlight that exercise may be just as effective for some (stock image)

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS? 

Mindfulness is a popular form of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment.

The practice involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.

It is often touted as a universal tool for boosting mental wellbeing by reducing stress, anxiety and depression. 

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Mindfulness involves sitting silently and focusing on your thoughts, sounds and sensations in the present moment.

It is often touted as a universal tool for boosting mental wellbeing by reducing stress, anxiety and depression.

Randomised control trials (RCT) have been conducted around the world to determine whether this is the case, but results have varied.

Now, researchers at the University of Cambridge have reviewed these studies to provide more 'robust conclusions'.

Dr Julieta Galante said: 'For the average person and setting, practising mindfulness appears to be better than doing nothing for improving our mental health, particularly when it comes to depression, anxiety and psychological distress.

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'But we shouldn't assume that it works for everyone, everywhere.'

People often practice mindfulness in community settings such as universities, workplaces or private courses.

The researchers identified 136 RCTs, which looked at whether mindfulness in a community setting promotes mental health.

Mindfulness involves sitting silently and focusing on your thoughts, sounds and sensations in the present moment (stock image)

Mindfulness involves sitting silently and focusing on your thoughts, sounds and sensations in the present moment (stock image)

These trials included 11,605 participants aged 18 to 73 years from 29 countries, more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of whom were women.

The researchers found in most cases mindfulness did indeed reduce anxiety, stress and depression compared with doing nothing.

But in more than one in 20 trial settings, it did not work.

Dr

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