Yoga and meditation aren’t so alternative anymore. About 14% of adults and a growing number of kids now practice yoga and meditation, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.
Between 2012 and 2017, the percentage of kids and adults who said they had done yoga or meditated in the last year rose significantly. About 14% of adults reported practicing both yoga and meditation in 2017, up from about 9.5% and 4%, respectively, in 2012. Meanwhile, the percentage of kids ages 4 to 17 who had done yoga in the last year increased from about 3% to 8%, and the percentage of kids who had practiced meditation rose from 0.6% to 5.4%.
Yoga and meditation have proliferated in recent years. More gyms, boutique studios and apps teach the practices, and a 2016 Yoga Journal survey estimated that Americans spent almost $17 billion on yoga classes, apparel and equipment that year. Research on the health benefits of these mindfulness practices — ranging from reduced stress, anxiety and depression to better vascular health and a lower risk of heart disease — is also increasing, which is likely inspiring more people to hit the mat. As more adults pick up these practices and learn about their benefits, the message seems to be trickling down to children, too.
But while these practices are on the rise across age groups and demographics, significant racial and gender divides still exist. In 2017, nearly 20% of women said they had done yoga in the last year, compared to about 9% of men. About 17% of white adults said they did yoga, compared to about 9% of black adults and 8% of Hispanic adults. Meanwhile, about 16% of women said they had practiced meditation, compared to nearly 12% of men. Roughly 15% of white adults said they had meditated, compared to 13.5% of black adults and almost 11% of Hispanic adults. Similar gender and racial gaps existed for kids.
Yoga is more popular among younger adults; about 18% of those ages 18 to 44 said they had practiced in the past year, compared to about 12% of those ages 45 to 64 and almost 7% of those 65 and older. Meditation, however, was most popular among middle-aged adults, at almost 16%, compared to roughly 13% of both younger and older adults.
Differences among youth age groups were less pronounced, though yoga was slightly more popular among kids ages 4 to 11 than tweens and teenagers. The opposite was true for meditation.