Improve Health Message Effectiveness with Mindfulness

Improve Health Message Effectiveness with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Individuals may benefit from cultivating mindful attention when processing potentially threatening yet beneficial health information. It’s possible that incorporating mindfulness cultivation into existing intervention strategies can promote more widespread positive health behavior.” – Yoona Kang

 

Health professionals know that lifestyle is a major contributor to health and alternatively disease. In an attempt to help alter lifestyles to promote health a frequent tactic is education; promoting positive behaviors with health messaging. Unfortunately, health messages are often met with defensiveness. They can be threatening and or induce shame in the targeted individual and thereby become counterproductive. So, it is important to develop methodologies to make health messaging less negative and more effective.

 

Mindfulness has been shown to reduce the emotional responding to a myriad of stimuli. It is therefore possible that mindfulness may improve the effectiveness of health messages.  In today’s Research News article “Dispositional Mindfulness Predicts Adaptive Affective Responses to Health Messages and Increased Exercise Motivation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5363856/ ), Kang and colleagues examine the ability of mindfulness to improve the ability of health messages to promote physical exercise.

 

They recruited relatively inactive healthy adults who came to the laboratory on three occasions. In the first visit they were measured for body size, mindfulness, exercise motivation, physical activity, and depression. For the next week they wore an accelerometer to measure their physical activity and reported to the laboratory for their second visit. At this visit they received a health message regarding the negative health consequences of a sedentary lifestyle, the benefits of exercise and ideas on how to incorporate exercise into their lives. They were also measured for positive and negative affect and exercise motivation. Over the next month they continued to wear the accelerometer and received daily health messages by text. They then reported to the lab for their third visit where they turned in their accelerometers and completed self-report measures of exercise motivation and physical activity.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness that the participants had, the lower the levels of negative emotions and feelings of shame. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness at the beginning of the study, the greater the levels of exercise motivation after the health messaging. They then investigated mediation for the effects of mindfulness on the effectiveness of the health messaging on exercise motivation after the month and found that mindfulness was associated with increased exercise motivation directly and indirectly by being associated with decreased negative emotions which, in turn were associated with reduced exercise motivation. In addition, they found that mindfulness was associated with increased exercise motivation directly and indirectly by being associated with decreased shame which in turn were associated with reduced exercise motivation. So, the effectiveness of the health messaging in increasing the participants motivation to engage in exercise was to some extent dependent upon their levels of mindfulness. Mindfulness appeared to work directly on exercise motivation and indirectly by reducing negative emotions and shame which were deterrents to being receptive to the messaging.

 

It should be kept in mind that this study was correlational, so causation cannot be determined. In addition, there wasn’t a no-health-messaging control condition, so the effects of potential bias and contaminants cannot be assessed. But, this study suggests that further research using more controlled conditions and manipulation of mindfulness with training is warranted. In order to make health messages effective in changing behavior, it may be necessary to combine the messaging with mindfulness exercises.

 

So, improve health message effectiveness with mindfulness.

 

“When you aren’t focused on what you’re doing, you may lose that sense of satisfaction for a job well done and, not only that, your workouts may not be as effective. Think about it; when you’re in a rush to be done, how careful are you with your form? If you added more focus to your workouts, more mindfulness to your exercises, you might get more out of them than you think.” – Paige Wehner

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Kang, Y., O’Donnell, M. B., Strecher, V. J., & Falk, E. B. (2017). Dispositional Mindfulness Predicts Adaptive Affective Responses to Health Messages and Increased Exercise Motivation. Mindfulness, 8(2), 387–397. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0608-7

Abstract

Feelings can shape how people respond to persuasive messages. In health communication, adaptive affective responses to potentially threating messages constitute one key to intervention success. The current study tested dispositional mindfulness, characterized by awareness of the present moment, as a predictor of adaptive affective responses to potentially threatening health messages and desirable subsequent health outcomes. Both general and discrete negative affective states (i.e., shame) were examined in relation to mindfulness and intervention success. Individuals (n=67) who reported less than 195 weekly minutes of exercise were recruited. At baseline, participants’ dispositional mindfulness and exercise outcomes were assessed, including self-reported exercise motivation and physical activity. A week later, all participants were presented with potentially threatening and self-relevant health messages encouraging physical activity and discouraging sedentary lifestyle, and their subsequent affective response and exercise motivation were assessed. Approximately one month later, changes in exercise motivation and physical activity were assessed again. In addition, participants’ level of daily physical activity was monitored by a wrist worn accelerometer throughout the entire duration of the study. Higher dispositional mindfulness predicted greater increases in exercise motivation one month after the intervention. Importantly, this effect was fully mediated by lower negative affect and shame specifically, in response to potentially threatening health messages among highly mindful individuals. Baseline mindfulness was also associated with increased self-reported vigorous activity, but not with daily physical activity as assessed by accelerometers. These findings suggest potential benefits of considering mindfulness as an active individual difference variable in theories of affective processing and health communication.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5363856/

 

Improve Health Behaviors in Adolescents with Mindfulness

Improve Health Behaviors in Adolescents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Your teenager may react with skepticism at first when you suggest meditation. But, with all the noise in the world and on the internet these days, teens can definitely benefit from taking time to quiet the noise and meditate. It’s a handy practice that can help them through all kinds of confusing and stressful situations in life.” – Cleveland Clinic

 

We tend to think that illness is produced by physical causes, disease, injury, viruses, bacteria, etc. But, many health problems are behavioral problems or have their origins in maladaptive behavior. This is evident in car accident injuries that are frequently due to behaviors, such as texting while driving, driving too fast or aggressively, or driving drunk. Other problematic behaviors are cigarette smoking, alcoholism, drug use, or unprotected sex. Problems can also be produced by lack of appropriate behavior such as sedentary lifestyle, not eating a healthy diet, not getting sufficient sleep or rest, or failing to take medications according to the physician’s orders. Additionally, behavioral issues can be subtle contributors to disease such as denying a problem and failing to see a physician timely or not washing hands. In fact, many modern health issues, costing the individual or society billions of dollars each year, and reducing longevity, are largely preventable. Hence, promoting healthy behaviors and eliminating unhealthy ones has the potential to markedly improve health.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to promote health and improve illness. It is well established that if patterns and habits of healthy behaviors can be established early in life, long-term health can be promoted and ill health can be prevented. In today’s Research News article “Integrating mindfulness training in school health education to promote healthy behaviors in adolescents: Feasibility and preliminary effects on exercise and dietary habits.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5840835/ ), Salmoirago-Blotcher and colleagues explore the relationship of mindfulness to health behaviors in adolescents.

 

They recruited 9th grade classes in two high schools and assigned one to receive either 6-months of the usual health education class for 45 minutes 4 days per week combined with mindfulness training for 45 minutes one day per week or to receive the 4 days health education plus 1-day attention control. Students were measured before and after the 6-month training period for physical activity and dietary intake. Over the 6-month training period class attendance was high at 96%.

 

They did not find differences between groups before and after training for students who had low physical activity at baseline and did not find differences in dietary intakes. But, for students, particularly males, who were physically active at baseline participation in the health education plus mindfulness class produced significant increases in activity levels at the end of training. This was not true for the health education plus attention control condition.

 

These findings suggest that incorporating mindfulness training into the health education curriculum may increase health behaviors in adolescents. It is unfortunate that this intervention did not appear to work with the students who needed it the most, the sedentary students and did not work for dietary intake, with overweight and obesity a major problem. Perhaps a more refined and targeted program my work with this group. Unfortunately, the research did not explore other known benefits of mindfulness training for adolescents such as psychological health. This should be explored with future research. Regardless, the results suggest that mindfulness training should be further explored to increase health behaviors in adolescents. Strengthening these behaviors at a relatively early age may have positive health consequences throughout their lives.

 

So, improve health behaviors in adolescents with mindfulness.

 

“Qualitative data collection reveals that adolescents are less anxious and sleep better after doing yoga; in addition, their self-awareness and ease in their body increase, and their worldview begins to shift toward a more positive alignment.” – Sat Bir S. Khalsa

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Salmoirago-Blotcher, E., Druker, S., Frisard, C., Dunsiger, S. I., Crawford, S., Meleo-Meyer, F., … Pbert, L. (2018). Integrating mindfulness training in school health education to promote healthy behaviors in adolescents: Feasibility and preliminary effects on exercise and dietary habits. Preventive Medicine Reports, 9, 92–95. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2018.01.009

 

Abstract

Whether mindfulness training (MT) could improve healthy behaviors is unknown. This study sought to determine feasibility and acceptability of integrating MT into school-based health education (primary outcomes) and to explore its possible effects on healthy behaviors (exploratory outcomes). Two high schools in Massachusetts (2014–2015) were randomized to health education plus MT (HE-MT) (one session/week for 8 weeks) or to health education plus attention control (HE-AC). Dietary habits (24-h dietary recalls) and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA/7-day recalls) were assessed at baseline, end of treatment (EOT), and 6 months thereafter. Quantile regression and linear mixed models were used, respectively, to estimate effects on MVPA and dietary outcomes adjusting for confounders. We recruited 53 9th graders (30 HEM, 23 HEAC; average age 14.5, 60% white, 59% female). Retention was 100% (EOT) and 96% (6 months); attendance was 96% (both conditions), with moderate-to-high satisfaction ratings. Among students with higher MVPA at baseline, MVPA was higher in HE-MT vs. HE-AC at both EOT (median difference = 81 min/week, p = 0.005) and at 6 months (p = 0.004). Among males, median MVPA was higher (median difference = 99 min/week) in HE-MT vs. HEAC at both EOT (p = 0.056) and at 6 months (p = 0.04). No differences were noted in dietary habits. In sum, integrating school-based MT into health education was feasible and acceptable and had promising effects on MVPA among male and more active adolescents. These findings suggest that MT may improve healthy behaviors in adolescents and deserve to be reproduced in larger, rigorous studies.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5840835/

 

Improve Sleep with Diabetes with Yoga

Improve Sleep with Diabetes with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“yoga stimulates the organs which in turn improves metabolic activities. This means that the chemical transformations within a cell are carried out more efficiently. This makes it a highly beneficial exercise for those suffering from diabetes” – Aruna Rathod Panvell

 

Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States and nearly 600 million people worldwide have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Type II Diabetes results from a resistance of tissues, especially fat tissues, to the ability of insulin to promote the uptake of glucose from the blood. As a result, blood sugar levels rise producing hyperglycemia. Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. In addition, diabetes is heavily associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and circulatory problems leading to amputations. As a result, diabetes doubles the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes.

 

Type 2 diabetes is a common and increasingly prevalent illness that is largely preventable. One of the reasons for the increasing incidence of Type 2 Diabetes is its association with overweight and obesity which is becoming epidemic in the industrialized world. A leading cause of this is a sedentary life style. Unlike Type I Diabetes, Type II does not require insulin injections. Instead, the treatment and prevention of Type 2 Diabetes focuses on diet, exercise, and weight control. Recently, mindfulness practices have been shown to be helpful in managing diabetes. A mindfulness practice that combines mindfulness with exercise is yoga and it has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of Type II Diabetes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of yoga and aerobics exercise on sleep quality in women with Type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5612039/ ), Ebrahimi and colleagues recruited adult women with diabetes and randomly assigned them to a 12-week program of yoga practice, running on a treadmill, or a control condition. Yoga consisted of postures, breathing exercises and relaxation and was practiced for 90 minutes three times per week while running on a treadmill was practiced for 30 minutes 3 times per week. They were measured before, at 6 weeks, and after training for sleep quality.

 

They found that yoga but not either running or the control condition produced a significant improvement in sleep quality at 6-weeks and at the end of training. The improvements included decreased time to fall asleep, longer duration of sleep, greater sleep efficiency, fewer sleep medications and sleep disturbances, and better daytime function. Hence, participation in yoga practice was found to markedly improve sleep in diabetic women.

 

It is suspected, but nor established, that the improvements in sleep improve the quality of life with diabetes. The fact that aerobic exercise did not produce similar improvements suggests that it was the mindfulness component and not the exercise component of yoga practice that was responsible for the improvements. It is known that mindfulness practices improve sleep and diabetes. It remains for future research to establish the causal connections between the two effects of mindfulness.

 

So, improve sleep with diabetes with yoga.

 

“Regular practice of yoga does reduce blood sugar levels, the blood pressure, weight, the rate of progression to the complications, and the severity of the complications as well. The symptoms are also reduced to a great extent, so are number of diabetes related hospital admissions.”Sujit Chandratreya

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Ebrahimi, M., Guilan-Nejad, T. N., & Pordanjani, A. F. (2017). Effect of yoga and aerobics exercise on sleep quality in women with Type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial. Sleep Science, 10(2), 68–72. http://doi.org/10.5935/1984-0063.20170012

 

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was investigating the effect of 12 weeks of yoga and aerobic exercise (running on a treadmill) on the sleep quality in women with Type 2 diabetes.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

39 diabetic women were selected from Semnan city with the mean age of 46.85±3.35 years, weight of 69.79±17.18 kg, height of 155.03±5.00, BMI of 29.64±5.00 kg/m2 who had a background of diabetes for 6.46±2.69 years. They were then randomly divided into yoga exercise (n=15), aerobic exercise (n=13), and control group (n=11). The exercise program was performed for 12 weeks, three sessions per each week. In order to measure the sleep quality, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was used. The data were analyzed by non-parametric wilcoxon and Kruskal-Wallis Test at significance level of p<0.05.

RESULTS

Overall score of sleep quality improved after six (p=0.001) and 12 (p=0.001) weeks of yoga exercise. Also, significant effect was observed after 6 weeks of aerobic exercise (p=0.039). However, the positive effect was diminished to under significant levels after 12 weeks of aerobic exercise (p=0.154). Kruskal-Wallis Test showed significant differences between yoga and aerobic groups after 12 weeks of exercise (p=0.002). No significant differences were observed in control groups in all situation.

CONCLUSIONS

It can be concluded that yoga exercise is more effective in improving the sleep quality in comparison with the same course of aerobic exercise in women suffering from diabetes Type 2. Thus, yoga exercise can be suggested to these patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5612039/

Improve Attitudes and Mental Health at Work with Mindfulness

Improve Attitudes and Mental Health at Work with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness is, above all, about being aware and awake rather than operating unconsciously. When you’re consciously present at work, you’re aware of two aspects of your moment-to-moment experience—what’s going on around you and what’s going on within you. To be mindful at work means to be consciously present in what you’re doing, while you’re doing it, as well as managing your mental and emotional state.” –  Shamash Alidina

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations burnout is all too prevalent. It frequently results from emotional exhaustion. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. Sleep disruption is an important consequence of the stress.  This exhaustion produces a loss of enthusiasm, empathy, and compassion. Regardless of the reasons for burnout or its immediate presenting consequences, it is a threat to the workplace. From a business standpoint, it reduces employee efficiency and productivity and increases costs. From the worker perspective, it makes the workplace a stressful, unhappy place, promoting physical and psychological problems. Hence, preventing burnout in the workplace is important. One technique that is gaining increasing attention is mindfulness training. It has been demonstrated to be helpful in treating and preventing burnout in a number of work environments.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindful2Work: Effects of Combined Physical Exercise, Yoga, and Mindfulness Meditations for Stress Relieve in Employees. A Proof of Concept Study.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5241323/

de Bruin and colleagues performed a pilot study of the effectiveness of a program of exercise, meditation, and yoga for the relief of work related stress symptoms. They recruited

workers who were referred by physicians who diagnosed them with work related stress issues. The workers received training in six weekly 2-hour sessions and a follow-up session, consisting of 20 minutes of aerobic exercise, 20 minutes of Hatha restorative yoga, and 80 minutes of mindfulness meditation including psycho-education. The participants were encouraged to practice at home. They were measured before and after the intervention, 6 weeks and 6 months after the completion of the program for workability, perceived stress, anxiety, depression, emotions, and sleep.

 

They found that the participants liked the program rating it at 8.1 on a 10-point scale. Following the intervention work-related fatigue and exhaustion (burnout) was markedly and significantly reduced while motivation, activation, focus and concentration, and energy were significantly increased. The employees became significantly less likely to leave their job, worked a significantly greater proportion of their contract hours, and found the work environment to be significantly better. Hence, the employees showed markedly improved attitudes and behavior toward their jobs. The employees’ psychological health was also greatly improved, with significant reductions in anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and increases in sleep quality and positive emotions. These effects all had very large effect sizes and were still strong and present 6 months after the conclusion of training. Hence, work-related psychological issues were improved in a lasting way with the intervention.

 

These results of this pilot study were impressive. But, the lack of a control group or condition markedly limits the conclusions that can be reached. Also, since the intervention contained meditation, yoga, and aerobic exercise, it cannot be determined which, or which combination of components are necessary for the benefits. But, the results certainly suggest that a large randomized controlled clinical trial should be conducted. With the intense stresses of the modern work environment, a program that reduced stress and improved attitudes and emotions, would be extremely valuable both to the employer and the employees.

 

So, improve attitudes and mental health at work with mindfulness.

 

“Many corporations and employees are realizing that the benefits of mindfulness practices can be dramatic. In addition to supporting overall health and well-being, mindfulness has been linked to improved cognitive functioning and lower stress levels.” – Carolyn Gregoire

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

De Bruin, E. I., Formsma, A. R., Frijstein, G., & Bögels, S. M. (2017). Mindful2Work: Effects of Combined Physical Exercise, Yoga, and Mindfulness Meditations for Stress Relieve in Employees. A Proof of Concept Study. Mindfulness, 8(1), 204–217. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0593-x

 

Abstract

Work-related stress and associated illness and burnout is rising in western society, with now as much as almost a quarter of European and half of USA’s employees estimated to be at the point of burnout. Mindfulness meditation, yoga, and physical exercise have all shown beneficial effects for work-related stress and illness. This proof of concept study assessed the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effects of the newly developed Mindful2Work training, a combination of physical exercise, restorative yoga, and mindfulness meditations, delivered in six weekly group sessions plus a follow-up session. Participants (n = 26, four males), referred by company doctors with (work-related) stress and burnout complaints, completed measurements pre and post the intervention, as well as at 6-week (FU1) and 6-month (FU2) follow-up. Results showed very high feasibility and acceptability of the Mindful2Work training. The training and trainers were rated with an 8.1 and 8.4 on a 1–10 scale, respectively, and training dropout rate was zero. Significant improvements with (very) large effect sizes were demonstrated for the primary outcome measures of physical and mental workability, and for anxiety, depression, stress, sleep quality, positive and negative affect, which remained (very) large and mostly increased further over time. Risk for long-term dropout from work (checklist individual strength [CIS]) was 92 % at pre-test, reduced to 67 % at post-test, to 44 % at FU1, and 35 % at FU2, whereas employees worked (RTWI) 65 % of their contract hours per week at pre-test, which increased to 73 % at post-test, 81 % at FU1 and 93 % at FU2. Intensity of home practice or number of attended sessions were not related to training effects. To conclude, the newly developed Mindful2Work training seems very feasible, and acceptable, and although no control group was included, the large effects of Mindful2Work are highly promising.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5241323/

 

Improve the Symptoms of Stress with Mindfulness

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Improve the Symptoms of Stress with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Through mindfulness, individuals start to see their thoughts as less powerful. These distorted thoughts – such as “I always make mistakes” or “I’m a horrible person” – start to hold less weight. We ‘experience’ thoughts and other sensations, but we aren’t carried away by them. We just watch them come and go.” – William Marchand

 

Stress is universal. We are constantly under some form of stress. In fact, if we don’t have enough stress, we seek out more. Moderate stress can be a good thing promoting growth and flourishing. But, it must be moderate or what is called the optimum level of stress. Too little or too much stress can be damaging. Unfortunately for many of us living in a competitive, multitasking, modern environment stress is all too often higher than desirable. In addition, many of the normal mechanisms for dealing with stress have been eliminated. The business of modern life removes opportunities for rest, extra sleep, and leisure activities. Instead people are working extra hours and limiting or passing up entirely vacations to stay competitive. Persistently high levels of stress are damaging and can directly produce disease or debilitation increasing susceptibility to other diseases. Indeed, chronic stress has been associated with depression, anxiety, burnout, suicide attempts, poor immune functioning, and cardiovascular disorders.

 

It is beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress, so it is important that methods be found to reduce the individual’s responses to stress; to make the individual more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices including meditation practice have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Because of their ability to relieve stress, mindfulness trainings are increasingly being practiced by individuals and are even being encouraged in some workplaces. But, some other treatments such as exercise or biofeedback may also be effective.

 

In today’s Research News article “A RCT Comparing Daily Mindfulness Meditations, Biofeedback Exercises, and Daily Physical Exercise on Attention Control, Executive Functioning, Mindful Awareness, Self-Compassion, and Worrying in Stressed Young Adults.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1466297833394138/?type=3&theater

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5010624/

de Bruin and colleagues recruited young adults, aged 18-40 years, who were high in perceived stress and randomly assigned them to either a daily mindfulness meditations, daily heart rate variability biofeedback, or daily physical exercise groups. The participants were provided a 2-hour orientation instruction and then practiced daily over 5 weeks for 10 to 20 minutes per day on an individualized practice plan. They were measured before and after treatment and 6-weeks later for attention control, executive function, mindfulness, self-compassion, and worry.

 

They found that all three interventions produced significant improvement from the pretest to posttest in attention control, executive function, mindfulness, self-compassion, and worry. These effects remained significant at the 6-week follow-up, suggesting lasting effects. All practices had moderate to large effects sizes. Surprisingly there were no significant differences between the three different practices as all produced significant improvements in the measures.

 

It is interesting that all three practices produced significant increases in mindfulness. This would be expected for the mindfulness meditation group but is somewhat surprising for the heart rate variability biofeedback and physical exercise groups. This fact may explain why all of the practices were beneficial. It suggests that improved mindfulness is responsible for the improvements in attention control, executive function, self-compassion, and worry. This seems reasonable, give that mindfulness training has been shown previously to improve attention control, executive function, self-compassion, and worry. Hence it appears that there are a number of practices that can improve the psychological conditions of stressed young adults and that they act by increasing mindfulness.

 

So, improve the symptoms of stress with mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness meditation promotes metacognitive awareness, decreases rumination via disengagement from perseverative cognitive activities and enhances attentional capacities through gains in working memory. These cognitive gains, in turn, contribute to effective emotion-regulation strategies.” Daphne Davis

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts

 

Study Summary

De Bruin, E. I., van der Zwan, J. E., & Bögels, S. M. (2016). A RCT Comparing Daily Mindfulness Meditations, Biofeedback Exercises, and Daily Physical Exercise on Attention Control, Executive Functioning, Mindful Awareness, Self-Compassion, and Worrying in Stressed Young Adults. Mindfulness, 7(5), 1182–1192. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0561-5

 

Abstract

Our Western society is characterized by multitasking, competition, and constant time pressure. Negative effects of stress for the individual (anxiety, depression, somatic complaints) and for organizations and society (costs due to work absence) are very high. Thus, time-efficient self-help interventions to address these issues are necessary. This study assessed the effects of daily mindfulness meditations (MM) versus daily heart rate variability biofeedback (HRV-BF) and daily physical exercise (PE) on attention control, executive functioning, mindful awareness, self-compassion, and worrying. Young adults (n = 75, age range 18 to 40) with elevated stress levels were randomized to MM, HRV-BF, or PE, and measurements were taken at pre-test, post-test, and follow-up. Interventions in all three groups were self-guided and lasted for 5 weeks. Generalized estimating equation analyses showed that overall, all three interventions were effective and did not differ from each other. However, practice time differed between groups, with participants in the PE group practicing much more than participants in the other two groups. Therefore, additional analyses were carried out in two subsamples. The optimal dose sample included only those participants who practiced for at least 70 % of the total prescribed time. In the equal dose sample, home practice intensity was equal for all three groups. Again, the effects of the three interventions did not differ. In conclusion, MM, HRV-BF, and PE are all effective self-help methods to improve attention control, executive functioning, mindful awareness, self-compassion, and worrying, and mindfulness meditation was not found to be more effective than HRV-biofeedback or physical exercise for these cognitive processes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5010624/

 

Improve Cognition in Women with Early Psychosis with Yoga

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By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“There are basically two different ways in which yoga can help your memory. One is through asanas or postures, and the second way is through breathing exercises. All of these techniques have elements in common. They tend to drive oxygen and blood towards the brain hence making the mind a more tranquil place. Increased serenity will invigorate our mental functions and activities.” – Mira Saraf

 

Psychoses are mental health problems that cause people to perceive or interpret things differently from those around them. This might involve hallucinations; seeing and, in some cases, feeling, smelling or tasting things that aren’t there, or delusions; unshakable beliefs that, when examined rationally, are obviously untrue. The combination of hallucinations and delusional thinking can often severely disrupt perception, thinking, emotion, and behavior, making it difficult if not impossible to function in society without treatment. Psychoses appear to be highly heritable and involves changes in the brain.

 

The symptoms of psychoses usually do not appear until late adolescence or early adulthood. There are, however, usually early signs of the onset of psychoses which present as cognitive impairments. There are some indications that aerobic exercise can help lessen these early symptoms. Mindfulness training has also been shown to be beneficial with psychosis. So, it would make sense that yoga, which includes both physical exercise and mindfulness training may be effective. This notion was examined in today’s Research News article “Aerobic exercise and yoga improve neurocognitive function in women with early psychosis.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1421127021244553/?type=3&theater

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4849465/

 

Lin and colleagues recruited a large sample of women diagnosed with early stage psychoses and randomly assigned them to either a wait list control condition or to receive 12-weeks of either integrated yoga therapy training or aerobic exercise (walking and cycling). Training occurred for 60 minutes per day for 3 days per week. They were tested at baseline, at the completion of the 12-weeks of training and 18 months later for verbal acquisition, short-term (working) memory, cognitive interference, positive and negative symptoms of psychoses, physical and psychological health, body perception, drug adherence and fitness. They also underwent Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) brain scans.

 

They found that at the conclusion of training there were statistically significant improvements in verbal acquisition, working memory and attention for the yoga group and in verbal retention and working memory for the aerobic exercise group. Both groups had significant improvements in physical and psychological health (lower depression). Aerobic exercise, but not yoga, produced significant increases in the hippocampus gray matter volume in the brain. Importantly, these effects were still present and significant 18 months later, suggesting that the training has long-lasting effects.

 

The results suggest that both yoga and aerobic exercise have lasting beneficial effects for women in the early stages of psychoses, improving physical, psychological, and cognitive performances. There were small differences between the two exercise types, with yoga producing greater improvements in verbal learning and attention than aerobic exercise. These are interesting and exciting findings that suggest that the early physical, psychological, and cognitive symptoms of psychoses in women can be successfully improved with either aerobic exercise or yoga, with perhaps yoga being more effective for the verbal learning and attentional symptoms. This makes sense as yoga involves training in attention.

 

So, improve cognition in women with early psychosis with yoga.

 

“If you or your relatives are trying to improve your memory or offset the risk for developing memory loss or dementia, a regular practice of yoga and meditation could be a simple, safe and low-cost solution to improving your brain fitness.” – Helen Lavretsky
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts

 

Study Summary

Lin, J., Chan, S. K., Lee, E. H., Chang, W. C., Tse, M., Su, W. W., … Chen, E. Y. (2015). Aerobic exercise and yoga improve neurocognitive function in women with early psychosis. NPJ Schizophrenia, 1(0), 15047–. http://doi.org/10.1038/npjschz.2015.47

 

Abstract

Impairments of attention and memory are evident in early psychosis, and are associated with functional disability. In a group of stable, medicated women patients, we aimed to determine whether participating in aerobic exercise or yoga improved cognitive impairments and clinical symptoms. A total of 140 female patients were recruited, and 124 received the allocated intervention in a randomized controlled study of 12 weeks of yoga or aerobic exercise compared with a waitlist group. The primary outcomes were cognitive functions including memory and attention. Secondary outcome measures were the severity of psychotic and depressive symptoms, and hippocampal volume. Data from 124 patients were included in the final analysis based on the intention-to-treat principle. Both yoga and aerobic exercise groups demonstrated significant improvements in working memory (P<0.01) with moderate to large effect sizes compared with the waitlist control group. The yoga group showed additional benefits in verbal acquisition (P<0.01) and attention (P=0.01). Both types of exercise improved overall and depressive symptoms (all P⩽0.01) after 12 weeks. Small increases in hippocampal volume were observed in the aerobic exercise group compared with waitlist (P=0.01). Both types of exercise improved working memory in early psychosis patients, with yoga having a larger effect on verbal acquisition and attention than aerobic exercise. The application of yoga and aerobic exercise as adjunctive treatments for early psychosis merits serious consideration.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4849465/