News Release

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Nationwide survey reveals widespread use of mind and body practices

More Americans of all ages are rolling out their yoga mats in an effort to improve their health.

More Americans of all ages are rolling out their yoga mats in an effort to improve their health. A large nationally representative survey shows that the number of Americans using mind and body approaches to improve health and well-being remains high. Of note is a significant increase in the use of yoga since 2002. In addition, almost as many Americans practice meditation or receive chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation.

The complementary health questionnaire was developed by NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The complementary health questionnaire is administered every 5 years as part of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), an annual study in which tens of thousands of Americans are interviewed about their health- and illness-related experiences. To identify trends in Americans’ use of certain practices, 2012 survey data were compared with versions of the survey fielded in 2002 and 2007.

“The 2012 NHIS survey is the most current, comprehensive, and reliable source of information on the use of complementary health approaches by U.S. adults and children. The survey data suggest that consumers are paying attention to medical evidence and using it to inform their decisions,” said Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., Director of NCCIH. “This reaffirms how important it is for NIH to rigorously study complementary health approaches and make that information easily available to consumers.”

Survey highlights:

  • Approximately 21 million adults (nearly double the number from 2002) and 1.7 million children practiced yoga.
  • Nearly 20 million adults and 1.9 million children had chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation.
  • Nearly 18 million adults and 927,000 children practiced meditation.
  • Children whose parents use a complementary health approach are more likely to use one as well.

The increase in yoga has occurred across all age, racial, and ethnic groups. Most notably, the largest shift in the use of any mind and body approach was seen in the demographics of people using yoga:

  • Among Americans age 18-44, yoga use nearly doubled since 2002;
  • Among older Americans age 45-64, usage increased from 5.2 percent in 2002 to 7.2 percent in 2012; and
  • Approximately 400,000 more children aged 4-17 used yoga in 2012 than in 2007.

The high rates of use may be partly due to a growing body of research showing that some mind and body practices can help manage pain and reduce stress. Another factor that may have influenced the increased popularity of yoga is increased access—for instance, industry reports show that the number of yoga studios in the United States has increased substantially in recent years.

The 2012 survey results, released in a National Health Statistics Report by NCHS, are based on combined data from 88,962 American adults and 17,321 interviews with a knowledgeable adult about children aged 4-17 years. The 2012 survey is the third conducted by NCCIH and NCHS—previous surveys occurred as part of the 2002 and 2007 NHIS. Children’s data were assessed in 2007 and 2012.

The pattern of use of complementary health approaches is one of the four guiding principles that determine the practices and products studied by NCCIH. The others are that the practice or product must be able to be studied using high-quality and rigorous research, hold promise, and have an impact on the public’s health. As well, knowing about use can help identify Americans’ unmet health needs. For example, pain is one of the leading reasons why Americans turn to complementary health approaches. Thus, the Center’s research priorities include the study of complementary approaches — such as yoga, massage, and meditation — that may help manage pain and other symptoms that are not consistently addressed well by drugs and other conventional treatments.

Read more about the use of other mind and body approaches and the use of natural products in the full report

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health was formerly the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

NCCIH’s mission is to define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative health approaches and their roles in improving health and health care. For additional information, call NCCIH’s Clearinghouse toll free at 1-888-644-6226, or visit the NCCIH Web site at Follow us on Twitter , Facebook , and YouTube .

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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Media Note

NCCIH and NCHS will present more information on the survey results, including the use of natural products, during a webinar on Feb. 10, 2015 from 10 a.m. until 11 a.m. ET. For details contact the NCCIH Press Office at or 301-496-7790.