What Cuts the Chance of Catching the Cold or Flu by up to 50 Percent?

What Cuts the Chance of Catching the Cold or Flu by up to 50 Percent?

Model used for illustrative purposes

A guest post written by Bob Cummings, media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Michigan

Your mind can cut your chances of catching a cold by 40 to 50 percent.

Really? Yes – according to a recent ABC News report by Susan Ince entitled, “15 Ways To Prevent Colds and Flu” which lists meditation along with other methods of prevention such as exercise, getting enough sleep, and frequently washing one’s hands.

Here’s some interesting numbers on the effectiveness of different methods of preventing colds and flu:

  • Meditation and mindfulness (according to study mentioned below): 40 to 50 percent
  • Exercise (according to study mentioned below): 20 to 30 percent
  • Hand washing (according to the World Health Organization): 16 to 24 percent

Ince writes, “Your mind can cut your chances of catching a cold by 40 to 50 percent, according to a 2012 University of Wisconsin, Madison, study. Fifty-one people who used mindfulness techniques logged 13 fewer illnesses and 51 fewer sick days than a control group during one cold-and-flu season, probably because meditation reduces physical effects of stress that weaken the immune system.”

Lead author Dr. Bruce Barrett, a family medicine physician and associate professor at the School of Medicine and Public Health there, conducted the study cited by Ince. It found that symptoms were reduced by 40-50 percent for the group that received mindfulness training and by 30-40 percent for the group that received exercise training. However, it is important to note that this study is quite new, is just one study and it used a fairly small sampling.

Still – it’s something to think about.

Prayer is a type of mindfulness practice commonly used by many people to improve their health and wellbeing. In fact, almost half of Americans use prayer for health concerns, a percentage that has been increasing over the past decade according to the American Psychological Association 2011 Psychology of Religion and Spirituality report.

The Bible offers this assurance: “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected endThen shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.”¹

If our thoughts can reduce the chances of cold or flu, then availing ourselves of divine aid and comfort through prayer should have practical results. And that’s definitely something to think about.

About the author

Guest We are pleased to present Notes from the Field authors, who are assistant committees and church members in the Southern California region; and Notes from The Mother Church authors, who are Committees from the United States and around the world, as well as the Federal Committee on Publication office.


  1. Sue says

    Thank you for sharing this thought. It looks like more and more people are accepting the idea that thought filled with good, with calm, uplifting, & beneficial ideas lead to peace and health. An idea from Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy on page 520 says, “The depth, breadth, height, might, majesty, and glory of infinite Love fill all space. That is enough!” I find that it is enough each day to focus on this idea to keep unwanted and harmful ideas from intruding into my thoughts and as Jesus taught us, to see each person as blessed and whole, a child of God.

  2. Rhonda says

    Yes, definitely something to think about…because it is true!

    I have been using the “mindfulness” of prayer for many years and have seen the good effects, such as good health as a result. I can not remember when I last had a cold or flu. And the few times in my life I did, they lasted only a short time and were very mild. I highly recommend a mindful understanding of God’s goodness and care to be very effective for my wellbeing.

  3. Tracy says

    Great article! It’s good to see that others are realizing that consciousness plays such an important role in health. Thanks for sharing this Bob!

  4. Pamela says

    Thanks Bob! That was a really insightful article and the stats you’vd given should encourage everyone to start thinking more and going along with the crowd less. When we have “crowd thinking” we are not thinking for our selves.

    As a practicing Christian Scientist I have found, like many others, that quiet prayerful thinking and turning to God for inspiration is one of the best solutions for having good health.