Improve the Aging Brain and Well-Being with Mindfulness Training

Improve the Aging Brain and Well-Being with Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

On average, the brains of long-term meditators were 7.5 years younger at age 50 than the brains of non-meditators, and an additional 1 month and 22 days younger for every year after 50.”Grace Bullock

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our cognitive (mental) abilities which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem-solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. Research has found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditation and yoga have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners. Tai Chi and Qigong have also been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging.

 

In today’s Research News article “Long-Term Physical Exercise and Mindfulness Practice in an Aging Population.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00358/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1293822_69_Psycho_20200407_arts_A), Tang and colleagues recruited healthy older participants who practiced for an hour a day 6 – 7 days a week for 12 years either physical exercise, aerobic walking, or integrated mind-body training, including body relaxation, mental imagery and mindfulness training. The participants underwent brain imaging with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). They had their heart rate, respiration. and skin conductance recorded during a fitness exercise session. Salivary Secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA), an index of mucosal immunity and Cortisol levels, an index of stress, were measured at rest, during stress, and during training. They also completed scales measuring general health and quality of life.

 

They found that the mindfulness group had significantly higher resting heart rate and respiration, high frequency heart rate variability, quality of life, and sIgA levels and significantly lower cortisol levels and skin conductance than the exercise group. In addition, they found that the mindfulness group compared to the exercise group had significantly larger brain striatum including the caudate and putamen and significantly greater functional connectivity between the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and the striatum and also the insula.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that long-term mindfulness practice results in differences in the psychological, physical, and neural states compared to physical exercise. Psychological well-being improvement in the mindfulness group was suggested by the greater reported quality of life. Physiological improvements in the mindfulness group were suggested by greater relaxation as indexed by greater autonomic nervous system, parasympathetic activity and measured by heart rate variability and skin conductance and lower stress hormone, cortisol, levels. The greater volume of the striatum and greater connectivity with the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex also suggest greater physiological relaxation. The mindfulness group also showed greater immune system function as indexed by sIgA levels. On the other hand, the aerobic walking group demonstrated greater physical fitness as indexed by lower resting heart rate and respiration.

 

In sum, these findings suggest the long-term aerobic walking exercise is good for the physical fitness of older adults. But long-term mindfulness training is better for their overall psychological and physical well-being. These results correspond with other prior findings that shorter-term mindfulness practice results in greater autonomic relaxation, quality of life, and neuroplastic changes in brain systems and that this training reduces the physiological and psychological deterioration occurring with aging.

 

So, improve the aging brain and well-being with mindfulness training.

 

“Mind and body practices, in particular, including relaxation techniques and meditative exercise forms such as yoga, tai chi, and qi gong are being used by older Americans, both for fitness and relaxation, and because of perceived health benefits.” –  National Center for Complementayy and Integrative Health

 

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

 

Tang Y-Y, Fan Y, Lu Q, Tan L-H, Tang R, Kaplan RM, Pinho MC, Thomas BP, Chen K, Friston KJ and Reiman EM (2020) Long-Term Physical Exercise and Mindfulness Practice in an Aging Population. Front. Psychol. 11:358. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00358

 

Abstract

Previous studies have shown that physical exercise and mindfulness meditation can both lead to improvement in physical and mental health. However, it is unclear whether these two forms of training share the same underlying mechanisms. We compared two groups of older adults with 10 years of mindfulness meditation (integrative body-mind training, IBMT) or physical exercise (PE) experience to demonstrate their effects on brain, physiology and behavior. Healthy older adults were randomly selected from a large community health project and the groups were compared on measures of quality of life, autonomic activity (heart rate, heart rate variability, skin conductance response, respiratory amplitude/rate), immune function (secretory Immunoglobulin A, sIgA), stress hormone (cortisol) and brain imaging (resting state functional connectivity, structural differences). In comparison with PE, we found significantly higher ratings for the IBMT group on dimensions of life quality. Parasympathetic activity indexed by skin conductance response and high-frequency heart rate variability also showed more favorable outcomes in the IBMT group. However, the PE group showed lower basal heart rate and greater chest respiratory amplitude. Basal sIgA level was significantly higher and cortisol concentration was lower in the IBMT group. Lastly, the IBMT group had stronger brain connectivity between the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and the striatum at resting state, as well as greater volume of gray matter in the striatum. Our results indicate that mindfulness meditation and physical exercise function in part by different mechanisms, with PE increasing physical fitness and IBMT inducing plasticity in the central nervous systems. These findings suggest combining physical and mental training may achieve better health and quality of life results for an aging population.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00358/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1293822_69_Psycho_20200407_arts_A

 

Reduce Sedentariness with Mindfulness

Reduce Sedentariness with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness- and acceptance-based practices can help exercisers establish the consistent, high-quality exercise practices required to experience the health benefits of exercise and physical activity.” – R. Shangraw

 

We tend to think that illness is produced by physical causes, disease, injury, viruses, bacteria, etc. But many health problems are behavioral problems such as sedentary lifestyle. Promoting exercise and reducing sedentariness has the potential to markedly improve health. Mindfulness training also has been shown to promote health and improve illness. Mindfulness and exercise, though, are not entirely independent. Research has been accumulating on the relationship between mindfulness and exercise. It makes sense, then, to summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Exploring the Use of Meditation as a Valuable Tool to Counteract Sedentariness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00299/full), Bigliassi and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the relationship of mindfulness with physical exercise,

 

They report that the published research has found that mindfulness increases physical activity in both normal, overweight and obese individuals. They also report that mindfulness increases self-compassion and it, in turn, increases the likelihood of engagement or reengagement in exercise. Mindfulness appears to facilitate exercise in active individuals by increasing sensory awareness of interoceptive and exteroceptive stimuli, making exercise more enjoyable. It can also improve mood and decrease anxiety which in turn reduces some emotional impediments to engaging in exercise. In addition, mindfulness reduces pain sensitivity which can improve engagement in high intensity exercises.

 

Both mindfulness and exercise are known to promote mental and physical health. The review suggests that they act synergistically with mindfulness making engaging in exercise more likely, increasing the sensory awareness of the exercise, reducing negative emotional impediments to exercise, increasing self-compassion, reducing the pain during exercise, and increasing the likelihood of reengagement in exercise after a lapse. Hence, mindfulness has beneficial effects to promote exercise, reducing sedentariness, and promoting health and well-being.

 

So, reduce sedentariness with Mindfulness.

 

Practicing mindfulness exercises and daily physical activity has been shown repeatedly to help manage stress and depression, and promote mental balance and happiness.” – Defeat Diabetes Foundation

 

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

 

Bigliassi M and Bertuzzi R (2020) Exploring the Use of Meditation as a Valuable Tool to Counteract Sedentariness. Front. Psychol. 11:299. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00299

 

Some forms of meditation have been recently proposed as effective tools to facilitate the handling of undesired thoughts and reappraisal of negative emotions that commonly arise during exercise-related situations. The effects of meditation-based interventions on psychological responses could also be used as a means by which to increase exercise adherence and counteract the detrimental consequences of sedentariness. In the present article, we briefly describe the effects of meditation on physical activity and related factors. We also propose a theoretical model as a means by which to further understanding of the effects of meditation on psychological, psychophysical, and psychophysiological responses during exercise. The results of very recent studies in the realms of cognitive and affective psychology are promising. The putative psychological mechanisms underlying the effects of meditation on exercise appear to be associated with the interpretation of interoceptive and exteroceptive sensory signals. This is primarily due to the fact that meditation influences the cerebral processing of physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts. In such instances, the bodily and perceptual responses that are commonly reported during exercise might be assuaged during the practice of meditation. It also appears that conscious presence and self-compassion function as an emotional backdrop against which more complex behaviors can be forged. In such instances, re-engagement to physical activity programs can be more effectively achieved through the implementation of holistic methods to treat the body and mind. The comments provided in the present paper might have very important implications for exercise adherence and the treatment of hypokinetic diseases.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00299/full

 

Reduce Incontinence in Women with Yoga

Reduce Incontinence in Women with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The pelvic floor is an instrumental player in the health and function of your bladder. Specifically, the perineum and the dynamic layers of muscle that compromise the inner pelvis, which are active in the passage of urine and control of the bladder. If you do experience leaks . . . strengthening your perineum with yoga will isolate the muscle, only furthering your ability to reduce leaks caused by incontinence.” – TENA

 

Urinary incontinence is common, particularly in women, and involves an involuntary loss of urine. This can range from slightly bothersome to debilitating. Possible public humiliation results in many women refraining from otherwise enjoyable public activities. This occurs due to problems with nerves and weakening of muscles that normally hold or discharge urine. Urinary incontinence occurs in about 10% of women and 2% of men under age 65 and 35% of women and 22% of men over age 65. Treatment can involve exercise, drugs, electrical stimulation, or even surgery.

 

Effective exercises for urinary incontinence strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor and sphincter muscles. Yoga is a gentle exercise with a number of poses that strengthen the pelvic floor. In addition, yoga practice increases body awareness helping the individual to better sense and control the muscles involved. Also, yoga can reduce anxiety and stress which can contribute to urinary incontinence. So, it would seem reasonable to examine the application of yoga exercises for the treatment of urinary incontinence.

 

In today’s Research News article “A group-based yoga program for urinary incontinence in ambulatory women: feasibility, tolerability, and change in incontinence frequency over 3 months in a single-center randomized trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6314206/?report=classic), Huang and colleagues recruited older women (> 50 years of age) who had urinary incontinence and provided them with a “written pamphlet providing basic patient-directed information about behavioral self-management of incontinence (such as pelvic floor exercises and timed urination) consistent with usual first-line care.” They were randomly assigned them to either receive additional 3 months, twice a week for 90 minutes, of yoga training or non-specific muscle stretching and strengthening. They were also asked to practice at home for an hour at least once a week. The yoga poses taught were selected to improve bladder control. They were measured before and after training for safety, feasibility, frequency of incontinence, and incontinence quality of life.

 

They found that over the 3-month program incontinence decreased by 76% in the yoga group and 56% in the exercise group, stress induced incontinence decreased by 61% in the yoga group and 35% in the exercise group. Group differences were not statistically significant. Participation rates were high and no serious adverse events were reported.

 

Yoga training produced on average superior results to the exercise program the lack of a statistically significant difference does not allow definitive conclusions. Yoga practice has been shown to reduce the effects of stress on the individual. So, the reduction in stress induced incontinence would be expected. Hence, the results make it clear that yoga training is a feasible, safe, and effective treatment for urinary incontinence in older women.

 

So, reduce incontinence in women with yoga.

 

yoga can help women who suffer from urinary incontinence by improving pelvic health and help gain more control over their bladders.“ – Attends

 

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

 

Huang, A. J., Chesney, M., Lisha, N., Vittinghoff, E., Schembri, M., Pawlowsky, S., … Subak, L. (2019). A group-based yoga program for urinary incontinence in ambulatory women: feasibility, tolerability, and change in incontinence frequency over 3 months in a single-center randomized trial. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 220(1), 87.e1–87.e13. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2018.10.031

 

Structured Abstract

Background:

Due to the limitations of existing clinical treatments for urinary incontinence, many women with incontinence are interested in complementary strategies for managing their symptoms. Yoga has been recommended as a behavioral self-management strategy for incontinence, but evidence of its feasibility, tolerability, and efficacy is lacking.

Objectives:

To evaluate the feasibility and tolerability of a group-based therapeutic yoga program for ambulatory middle-aged and older women with incontinence and examine preliminary changes in incontinence frequency as the primary efficacy outcome after 3 months.

Study Design:

Ambulatory women aged 50 years or older who reported at least daily stress-, urgency-, or mixed-type incontinence, were not already engaged in yoga, and were temporarily willing to forgo clinical incontinence treatments were recruited into a randomized trial in the San Francisco Bay area. Women were randomly assigned to take part in a program of twice weekly group classes and once weekly home practice focused on Iyengar-based yoga techniques selected by an expert yoga panel (yoga group) or a non-specific muscle stretching and strengthening program designed to provide a rigorous time-and-attention control (control group) for 3 months. All participants also received written, evidence-based information about behavioral incontinence self-management techniques (pelvic floor exercises, bladder training) consistent with usual first-line care. Incontinence frequency and type were assessed by validated voiding diaries. Analysis of covariance models examined within- and between-group changes in incontinence frequency as the primary efficacy outcome over 3 months.

Results:

Of the 56 women randomized (28 to yoga, 28 to control), mean age was 65.4 (±8.1) years (range 55–83 years), mean baseline incontinence frequency was 3.5 (±2.0) episodes/day, and 37 (66%) had urgency-predominant incontinence. Fifty women completed their assigned 3-month intervention program (89%), including 27 in the yoga and 23 in the control group (P=0.19). Of those, 24 (89%) in the yoga and 20 (87%) in the control group attended at least 80% of group classes. Over 3 months, total incontinence frequency decreased by an average of 76% from baseline in the yoga and 56% in the control group (P=0.07 for between-group difference). Stress incontinence frequency also decreased by an average of 61% in the yoga group and 35% in controls (P=0.045 for between-group difference), but changes in urgency incontinence frequency did not differ significantly between groups. Forty-eight non-serious adverse events were reported, including 23 in the yoga and 25 in the control group, but none were directly attributable to yoga or control program practice.

Conclusions:

Findings demonstrate the feasibility of recruiting and retaining incontinent women across the aging spectrum into a therapeutic yoga program and provide preliminary evidence of reduction in total and stress-type incontinence frequency after 3 months of yoga practice. When taught with attention to women’s clinical needs, yoga may offer a potential community-based behavioral self-management strategy for incontinence to enhance clinical treatment, although future research should assess whether yoga offers unique benefits for incontinence above and beyond other physical activity-based interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6314206/?report=classic

 

Meditation and Exercise Reduce Inflammation Through Different Pathways

Meditation and Exercise Reduce Inflammation Through Different Pathways

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness techniques may be more effective in relieving inflammatory symptoms than other activities that promote well-being.” – Science Daily

 

The immune system is designed to protect the body from threats like stress, infection, injury, and toxic chemicals. One of its tools is the Inflammatory response. This response works quite well for short-term infections and injuries. But when inflammation is protracted and becomes chronic, it can itself become a threat to health. It can produce autoimmune diseases such as colitis, Chron’s disease, arthritis, heart disease, increased cancer risk, lung disease, sleep disruption, gum disease, decreased bone health, psoriasis, and depression.

 

Needless to say, chronic inflammation can create major health problems. Indeed, the presence of chronic inflammation is associated with reduced longevity. So, it is important for health to control the inflammatory response, allowing it to do its job in fighting off infection but reducing its activity when no external threat is apparent. Of course, it is far better to prevent chronic inflammation in the first place than to treat it later. Mind-body techniques such as yoga, Tai Chi and meditation have been shown to adaptively reduce the inflammatory response.

 

In today’s Research News article “Differential Reduction of IP-10 and C-Reactive Protein via Aerobic Exercise or Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction Training in a Large Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6777863/), Meyer and colleagues recruited healthy sedentary adults aged 30 to 60 years. They were randomly assigned to one of three conditions, exercise, meditation, or wait-list control. The exercise and meditation groups received 8 weekly 2.5-hour sessions and practiced daily for 20 to 45 minutes. The exercise condition consisted of warm-up, aerobic exercise, and cool down. The meditation group received the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program consisting of meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The participants maintained weekly activity logs and were measured before and after the intervention and 17 weeks later for body size, exercise, and the blood inflammatory biomarkers Interleukin-6, Interferon gamma-inducible protein-10 (IP-10) and C-Reactive Protein.

 

They found that during the follow-up period both C-Reactive Protein and Interferon gamma-inducible protein-10 (IP-10)  levels were lower for all groups, but the meditation group had significantly lower levels of C-Reactive Protein at the 17 week follow-up while the exercise group had significantly lower levels of Interferon gamma-inducible protein-10 (IP-10) at the post training and 17 week follow-ups. As expected, during follow-up the exercise group had significantly more exercise practice while the meditation group had significantly more meditation practice, but these increases were not significantly related to the amount of change in the inflammatory biomarkers.

 

These results suggest that both exercise and mindfulness practice reduce the levels of biomarkers of inflammation. But they appear to do so through different anti-inflammatory mechanisms. It has been well-established that both exercise and mindfulness practice improves physical and psychological health, and reduce the physical reactions to stress. The present results suggest that these improvements in health may at least in part be accounted for by reduction in the inflammatory response.

 

It is clear from this study that engaging in either exercise or mindfulness practice is beneficial for the health and well-being of the practitioner. Since these practices appear to work via different mechanisms it would seem possible that they would have additive effects where engaging in both would have increased effectiveness in decreasing the inflammatory response and improving health and well-being. This remains for future research.

 

So, meditation and exercise reduce inflammation through different pathways.

 

mindfulness meditation training improves your brain’s ability to help you manage stress, and these changes improve a broad range of stress-related health outcomes, such as your inflammatory health,” – David Creswell.

 

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

 

Meyer, J. D., Hayney, M. S., Coe, C. L., Ninos, C. L., & Barrett, B. P. (2019). Differential Reduction of IP-10 and C-Reactive Protein via Aerobic Exercise or Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction Training in a Large Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of sport & exercise psychology, 41(2), 96–106. doi:10.1123/jsep.2018-0214

 

Abstract

Exercise and meditation improve health and well-being, potentially through decreasing systemic inflammation. In this study, healthy adults (N =413) were randomized to 8 weeks of training in aerobic exercise, matched mindfulness-based stress reduction, or wait-list control. Three inflammation-related biomarkers (C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and interferon-gamma-inducible protein-10) were assessed preintervention, directly postintervention, and 17 weeks later. Within-group analyses found that exercise participants had decreased serum interferon-gamma-inducible protein-10 postintervention and 17 weeks later, whereas C-reactive protein was lower in mindfulness-based stress-reduction participants 17 weeks postintervention only. Self-reported physical activity or amount of meditation practice did not predict biomarker changes. This study suggests that (a) training in aerobic exercise can lower interferon-gamma-inducible protein-10, a chemokine associated with interferon activity and illness, and (b) training in mindfulness meditation may have a delayed effect on C-reactive protein, an important inflammatory biomarker. The findings highlight the likelihood of multiple, distinct pathways underlying the health-promoting effects of these lifestyle interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6777863/

 

Reduce Pain and Falls and Improve Mobility in the Elderly with Tai Chi

Reduce Pain and Falls and Improve Mobility in the Elderly with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Solid research shows that tai chi can benefit people with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, tension headache, and other ongoing, painful conditions.” – Harvard Health

 

The process of aging affects every aspect of the physical and cognitive domains. Every system in the body deteriorates including motor function with a decline in strength, flexibility, and balance. Impaired balance is a particular problem as it can lead to falls. The elderly also frequently suffer from chronic pain.

 

Pain involves both physical and psychological issues. Physically, exercise can be helpful in strengthening the body to prevent or relieve pain. Psychologically, the stress, fear, and anxiety produced by pain tends to elicit responses that actually amplify the pain. Indeed, mindfulness practices are effective in treating pain and have been shown to be safe and effective in the management of low back painTai Chi, Qigong, and yoga  are all exercises and mindfulness practices that have been found to be effective for pain.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi for older adults with chronic multisite pain: a randomized controlled pilot study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6126990/), You and colleagues examine the ability of Tai Chi practice to reduce chronic pain in the elderly. They recruited elderly (>65 years of age) with multisite (2 or more) musculoskeletal pain who either had 1 or more falls in the last year or used a cane or walker. They were randomly assigned to receive 12 weeks, 2 hours, twice a week of either Tai Chi or light physical exercise. They were measured before and after training for acceptability of the exercises, chronic health conditions, pain, attention, executive function, physical function, gait, falls, and fear of falling. 83% of the elderly completed the study.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline the elderly who engaged in Tai Chi had significantly lower pain and pain interference with activities, improvements in gait, including stride and swing time, and decreased gait asymmetry, and decreased fear of falling, and fewer falls over the subsequent 9 months, while the light exercise group did not.

 

These are encouraging pilot results that are similar to other findings with Tai Chi with other types of patients. Unfortunately, because this was a small pilot study there were no statistically significant differences between the Tai Chi group and the light exercise group even though the Tai Chi groups was significantly improved relative to baseline whereas the light exercise group was not. But these results provide justification for performing a future large scale randomized controlled trial.

 

It’s important to note that Tai Chi is a gentle and safe mindfulness practice. It is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. It is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can be practiced in social groups. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice.

 

So, reduce pain and falls and improve mobility in the elderly with Tai Chi.

 

“Improved flexibility will reduce stiffness and help keep joints mobile. Stiffness causes pain; increase flexibility will relieve pain.  Tai Chi for Arthritis gently moves all joints, muscles and tendons throughout the body.” – Paul Lam

 

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

 

You, T., Ogawa, E. F., Thapa, S., Cai, Y., Zhang, H., Nagae, S., … Leveille, S. G. (2018). Tai Chi for older adults with chronic multisite pain: a randomized controlled pilot study. Aging clinical and experimental research, 30(11), 1335–1343. doi:10.1007/s40520-018-0922-0

 

Abstract

Background

Chronic pain is associated with poorer cognition and mobility, and fall risk in older adults.

Aims

To investigate the feasibility of a randomized trial of mind-body exercise (Tai Chi) versus light physical exercise in older adults with multisite pain.

Methods

Adults aged ≥ 65y with multisite pain who reported falling in the past year or current use of an assistive device were recruited from Boston area communities. Participants were randomized to either a Tai Chi or a light physical exercise program, offered twice weekly for 12 weeks. The primary outcomes were feasibility and acceptability. Secondary outcomes included pain characteristics, cognition, physical function, gait mobility, fear of falling, and fall frequency.

Results

Of 176 adults screened, 85 were eligible, and 54 consented and enrolled (average age 75±8y; 96.30% white; 75.93% female). The dropout rate was 18% for Tai Chi and 12% for light physical exercise. For those completing the study, exercise class attendance was 76% for Tai Chi and 82% for light physical exercise. There were no significant group differences in most secondary outcomes. Tai Chi significantly lowered pain severity (4.58±1.73 to 3.73±1.79, p<0.01) and pain interference (4.20±2.53 to 3.16±2.28, p<0.05), reduced fear of falling (90.82±9.59 to 96.84±10.67, p<0.05), and improved several single-task and dual-task gait variables, while light physical exercise did not change these measures

Discussion and Conclusions

This study demonstrated the feasibility and acceptability of conducting a larger randomized controlled trial in older adults with multisite pain. Study findings and challenges encountered will inform future research.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6126990/

 

Improve Emotion Regulation with Exercise and Mindfulness

Improve Emotion Regulation with Exercise and Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

When we engage in mindful practices, we can bring greater awareness, clarity, and equanimity to our day to day experiences. This leads to greater balance and less of the intense swings in mood that can throw us off kilter for days at a time.” – Sean Fargo

 

Mindfulness practice has been shown to improve emotions and their regulation. Practitioners demonstrate more positive and less negative emotions and the ability to fully sense and experience emotions, while responding to them in appropriate and adaptive ways. In other words, mindful people are better able to experience yet control their responses to emotions. The ability of mindfulness training to improve emotion regulation is thought to be the basis for a wide variety of benefits that mindfulness provides to mental health and the treatment of mental illness especially depression and anxiety disorders. Aerobic exercise can also improve emotions and their regulation. So, it makes sense to study the relationship between exercise and mindfulness in effecting emotion regulation.

 

In today’s Research News article “How Does Exercise Improve Implicit Emotion Regulation Ability: Preliminary Evidence of Mind-Body Exercise Intervention Combined With Aerobic Jogging and Mindfulness-Based Yoga.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6718717/), Zhang and colleagues recruited healthy female postgraduate students who did not have meditation experience and who did not engage in exercise. They were randomly assigned to a wait-list control condition or to engage in exercise 3 times per week over 8 weeks. The exercise alternated between jogging for 40 minutes and yoga practice for 60 minutes. The yoga practice consisted of postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. They were measured before and after the intervention for emotion regulation, negative emotions, aerobic fitness, and mindfulness.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the aerobic exercise and yoga group had significant increases in emotion regulation, aerobic fitness, and mindfulness and decreases in negative emotions. They also found that increases in aerobic fitness were associated with increases in emotion regulation. But this association was only significant with participants who had high or moderate increases in their levels of mindfulness. At low levels of improvements in mindfulness there was no significant relationship between aerobic fitness and emotion regulation.

 

These findings are interesting and suggest that aerobic exercise and yoga improves the individual’s ability to regulate their emotions. But mindfulness is required for aerobic exercise to be effective. The increases in mindfulness would be expected as the exercise intervention contained yoga and meditation components. Aerobic exercise is known to improve mood. It is new to show that it also improves emotion regulation. Perhaps that’s the reason for the improvements in mood. But in order for the emotion regulation to be improved by exercise, it must be accompanied by improvements in mindfulness. This suggests that the ability to pay attention in the present moment nonjudgmentally to one’s emotions is required for the exercise to affect the ability to regulate the emotions. Here mindfulness plays a permissive role allowing the exercise to have its effect on the participants ability to regulate their emotions.

 

So, Improve Emotion Regulation with Exercise and Mindfulness.

 

By acting mindfully, people are not only aware of their own feelings but become able to distance from it, avoiding feeling overpowered and acting out.” – Joan Swart

 

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

 

Zhang, Y., Fu, R., Sun, L., Gong, Y., & Tang, D. (2019). How Does Exercise Improve Implicit Emotion Regulation Ability: Preliminary Evidence of Mind-Body Exercise Intervention Combined With Aerobic Jogging and Mindfulness-Based Yoga. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 1888. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01888

 

Abstract

Purpose: The primary aim of the present study is to examine the effect of 8-week mind-body exercise intervention combining aerobic jogging and mindfulness-based yoga on implicit emotion regulation ability. The secondary aim is to explore the specific potential pathways by which the mind-body exercise intervention fosters implicit emotion regulation. This may help us to understand how the key components of exercise intervention contribute to emotional benefits.

Methods: Sixty participants were randomly allocated to one of two parallel groups: (1) the intervention group (n = 29) and (2) the waitlist control group (n = 31). Participants were asked to fill out scales measuring mindfulness and instructed to complete an emotion regulation task to assess implicit emotion regulation ability as well as the PWC 170 Test to evaluate aerobic fitness before and after the intervention.

Results: The results of the two-way repeated ANOVA revealed that 8 weeks of intervention improved implicit emotion regulation, mindfulness, and aerobic fitness levels. Path analysis showed that only improved aerobic fitness mediated the intervention effect on implicit emotion regulation ability, controlling for change in negative affect. Notably, the relationship between the effects on implicit emotion regulation ability and aerobic fitness was moderated by improved mindfulness.

Conclusion: Eight weeks of mind-body exercise intervention improves implicit emotion regulation ability. The aerobic fitness may be an essential pathway which mediates the efficacy on implicit emotion regulation ability. Furthermore, different components, such as aerobic fitness and mindfulness, may interactively contribute to such emotional benefits.

Keywords: mind-body exercise, aerobic jogging, mindfulness-based yoga, implicit emotion regulation ability, aerobic fitness, mindfulness, potential pathway

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6718717/

 

Improve Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Survivors with Exercise or Yoga

Improve Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Survivors with Exercise or Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“In studies of women with breast cancer, yoga has been shown to reduce fatigue and improve quality of sleep, physical vitality, and overall quality of life.” – BreastCancer.org

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving breast cancer. These symptoms markedly reduce the quality of life of the patients.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including fatiguestress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression. Yoga practice is a form of mindfulness training that has been shown to be beneficial for cancer patients. But yoga practice is both a mindfulness practice and an exercise. It is unclear whether the benefits of yoga practice for cancer patients is due to its mindfulness or exercise components or both. The research has been accumulating. It is thus important to take a step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga-Specific Enhancement of Quality of Life Among Women With Breast Cancer: Systematic Review and Exploratory Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388460/ ), El-Hashimi and Gorey review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of yoga for improving the quality of life in survivors of breast cancer. They found and report on 8 randomized controlled trials that included a comparison to another exercise program.

 

They report that the research demonstrated that exercise practices including yoga produce significant improvements in quality of life for the breast cancer patients that are still present as much as a year later. But yoga practice was not significantly better than other exercise programs in improving the quality of life. It would appear that the fact that yoga practice is an exercise and not its mindfulness aspect is critical for the improvement in the quality of life of breast cancer patients.

 

So, improve quality of life in breast cancer survivors with exercise or yoga.

 

“Yoga, meditation, and breathing practices allow women with breast cancer to explore their emotions, foster mindful empathy, and cope with fatigue and tightness,” – Sierra Campbell

 

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

 

El-Hashimi, D., & Gorey, K. M. (2019). Yoga-Specific Enhancement of Quality of Life Among Women With Breast Cancer: Systematic Review and Exploratory Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of evidence-based integrative medicine, 24, 2515690X19828325.

 

Abstract

Physical activities during and after cancer treatment have favorable psychosocial effects. Increasingly, yoga has become a popular approach to improving the quality of life (QoL) of women with breast cancer. However, the extant synthetic evidence on yoga has not used other exercise comparison conditions. This meta-analysis aimed to systematically assess yoga-specific effects relative to any other physical exercise intervention (eg, aerobics) for women with breast cancer. QoL was the primary outcome of interest. Eight randomized controlled trials with 545 participants were included. The sample-weighted synthesis at immediate postintervention revealed marginally statistically and modest practically significant differences suggesting yoga’s potentially greater effectiveness: d = 0.14, P = .10. However, at longer term follow-up, no statistically or practically significant between-group difference was observed. This meta-analysis preliminarily demonstrated that yoga is probably as effective as other exercise modalities in improving the QoL of women with breast cancer. Both interventions were associated with clinically significant improvements in QoL. Nearly all of the yoga intervention programs, however, were very poorly resourced. Larger and better controlled trials of well-endowed yoga programs are needed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388460/

 

Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in Adolescents with Yoga

Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in Adolescents with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

But, after coming back to Vinyasa yoga, and making it a daily practice, my eating habits have completely changed. I now crave fruit, vegetables, whole grains and other yummy nutritional things. And I haven’t had to even think about it or “engage in battle” with my brain for one second. The healthy choice is the only choice I want.” – Leslie Lewis

 

Eating is produced by two categories of signals. Homeostatic signals emerge from the body’s need for nutrients, is associated with feelings of hunger, and usually work to balance intake with expenditure. Non-homeostatic eating, on the other hand, is not tied to nutrient needs or hunger but rather to the environment and or to the pleasurable and rewarding qualities of food. These cues can be powerful signals to eat even when there is no physical need for food.

 

Mindful eating involves paying attention to eating while it is occurring, including attention to the sight, smell, flavors, and textures of food, to the process of chewing and may help reduce intake by affecting the individual’s response to non-homeostatic cues for eating. Indeed, high levels of mindfulness are associated with lower levels of obesity. Hence, mindful eating may counter non-homeostatic eating. Yoga is a mindfulness technique and yoga practice has been found to reduce emotional eating, reduce eating disorders, and improve mental health and dieting in the obese. Hence, yoga practice may be a method to improve healthy eating and physical activity in adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga’s potential for promoting healthy eating and physical activity behaviors among young adults: a mixed-methods study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5932774/ ), Watts and colleagues recruited middle and high school adolescents and had them complete measures of yoga practice, fruit and vegetable intake, sugar sweetened beverages, snack foods, fast foods, physical activity, and body size. A subset of the sample was recruited for qualitative interviews.

 

They found that those adolescents who practiced yoga had healthier diets and greater physical activity; including significantly greater consumption of fruits and vegetables and lower consumption of fast foods, snack foods, and sugar sweetened beverages. In addition, the greater the number of hours of yoga practice the better the diets and the greater the physical activity. In the interviews the adolescents indicated that yoga practice increased their mindful eating, cravings for healthier foods, and motivation for healthier eating, improved their management of stress and emotional eating. Also, they indicated that yoga practice increased their strength and flexibility and their desire to engage in other physical activities.

 

It should be kept in mind that these results are correlational and causation cannot be determined. But the results suggest that practicing yoga is associated with a constellation of healthy practices including healthier eating and greater physical activity. This is important as adolescence is the time when eating disorders and obesity develop. It is also the time for the establishment of eating and exercise habits. Thus, yoga practice may be a means to intervene early in life to establish a healthier lifestyle and promote health and well-being throughout life. It remains for future research to examine the effects of training adolescents in yoga on their health and well-being.

 

So, promote healthy eating and physical activity in adolescents with yoga.

 

One of the unique aspects of yoga as an activity is its holistic approach. Yoga practitioners focus on both mental and physical well-being. Similarly, food yoga isn’t only about cooking and eating, it’s about considering your thoughts and emotions as well.” – Yalla Mediteranian

 

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

Watts, A. W., Rydell, S. A., Eisenberg, M. E., Laska, M. N., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2018). Yoga’s potential for promoting healthy eating and physical activity behaviors among young adults: a mixed-methods study. The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity, 15(1), 42. doi:10.1186/s12966-018-0674-4

 

Abstract

Background

A regular yoga practice may have benefits for young adult health, however, there is limited evidence available to guide yoga interventions targeting weight-related health. The present study explored the relationship between participation in yoga, healthy eating behaviors and physical activity among young adults.

Methods

The present mixed-methods study used data collected as part of wave 4 of Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults), a population-based cohort study in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. Young adults (n = 1820) completed the Project EAT survey and a food frequency questionnaire, and a subset who reported practicing yoga additionally participated in semi-structured interviews (n = 46). Analyses of survey data were used to examine cross-sectional associations between the frequency of yoga practice, dietary behaviors (servings of fruits and vegetables (FV), sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and snack foods and frequency of fast food consumption), and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Thematic analysis of interview discussions further explored yoga’s perceived influence on eating and activity behaviors among interview participants.

Results

Regular yoga practice was associated with more servings of FV, fewer servings of SSBs and snack foods, less frequent fast food consumption, and more hours of MVPA. Interviews revealed that yoga supported healthy eating through motivation to eat healthfully, greater mindfulness, management of emotional eating, more healthy food cravings, and the influence of the yoga community. Yoga supported physical activity through activity as part of yoga practice, motivation to do other forms of activity, increased capacity to be active, and by complementing an active lifestyle.

Conclusions

Young adult yoga practitioners reported healthier eating behaviors and higher levels of physical activity than non-practitioners. Yoga should be investigated as an intervention for young adult health promotion and healthy weight management.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5932774/

 

Improve Autonomic Function, Metabolism, and Physical Fitness with Tai Chi

Improve Autonomic Function, Metabolism, and Physical Fitness with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Qigong and Tai Chi initiate the “relaxation response,” which is fostered when the mind is freed from its many distractions. This decreases the sympathetic function of the autonomic nervous system, which in turn reduces heart rate and blood pressure, dilates the blood capillaries, and optimizes the delivery of oxygen and nutrition to the tissues.”

 

Tai Chi has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevity. Tai Chi training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. Only recently though have the effects of Tai Chi practice been scrutinized with empirical research. It has been found to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. It appears to strengthen the immune system, reduce inflammationincrease the number of cancer killing cells in the bloodstream and improve cardiovascular function.

 

Because Tai Chi is not strenuous, involving slow gentle movements, and is safe, having no appreciable side effects, it is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. So, with indications of so many benefits it makes sense to explore further the effects of Tai Chi training on physical and psychological well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of Tai Chi Synergy T1 Exercise on Autonomic Function, Metabolism, and Physical Fitness of Healthy Individuals.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2018/6351938/ ), Tai and colleagues recruited adults and randomly assigned them to either participate in 12 weeks, once a week for 60 minutes, of either Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise or a metabolically equivalent walking exercise. “Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise is an aerobic exercise composed of movements derived not only from Tai Chi exercise but also from Eight Trigrams Palms, form and will boxing, mantis boxing, Qigong, and Yoga . . . The 60-minute exercise involves 4 exercise elements: handwork, trunk work, legwork, and whole-body work. The 3 levels of exercise intensity, light, average, and heavy, are adjusted according to the tolerance and fitness of the exerciser.” The participants were measured before and after the 12 weeks of training for body size and fatness, heart rate and blood pressure, serum glucose and cholesterol, physical fitness, bone density, and cell counts of immune regulator cells, including T cells, CD3+ cells, CD19+ B cells, CD16-CD56- cytotoxic T cells, and CD16+CD56+ NK/T cells.

 

They found that both exercises decreased the Body Mass Index (BMI) indicating decreased body fatness and also increased parasympathetic control of heart rate and blood pressure suggesting reduced activation and greater relaxation. Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise, but not walking, was found to significantly improve physical fitness and reduce blood levels of glucose and cholesterol. Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise was also found to improve immune system function as indicated by significantly increased T cells, CD3+ T cells, CD19+ B cells, and CD16+CD56+NK cells and significantly decreased CD3+ cytotoxic T cells.

 

These results are impressive especially as the group sizes were relatively small, 26 and 23 participants. They suggest that Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise is safe and effective in improving the physical health of participants; improving body fatness, physiological relaxation, physical fitness, and immune system function. Metabolically equivalent walking exercise also improved physical health, but not to the same extent as Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise.

 

It is well established that exercise is important for health. There’s no question there. There is, however, a question as to what exercises may be best for which group of people. Tai Chi and similar mindful movement exercises have been shown to improve cardiovascular fitness, muscle recovery after exercise, movement and flexibility, and immune and metabolic function. The present study demonstrated that a particular form of augmented Tai Chi is very effective in improving health. It would be interesting to compare the effectgiveness of various forms of mindful movement prctices.

 

So, improve autonomic function, metabolism, and physical fitness with Tai Chi.

 

“Qigong practice activate a number of the body’s self regulating systems which are responsible for the balanced function of the tissues, organs and glands. The uptake of oxygen, as well as, oxygen metabolism is tremendously enhanced by Qigong practice.” – Roger Jahnke

 

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

 

Hsu-Chih Tai, Yi-Sheng Chou, I-Shiang Tzeng, et al., “Effect of Tai Chi Synergy T1 Exercise on Autonomic Function, Metabolism, and Physical Fitness of Healthy Individuals,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2018, Article ID 6351938, 7 pages, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/6351938.

 

Abstract

Objectives. Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise is an aerobic exercise derived mainly from Tai Chi exercise. It is also derived from the Eight Trigrams Palms, form and will boxing, mantis boxing, Qigong, and Yoga, with a total of 16 sessions in 63 minutes. In this study, we investigated its effects on autonomic modulation, metabolism, immunity, and physical function in healthy practitioners. Method. We recruited a total of 26 volunteers and 23 control participants. Heart rate variability (HRV), blood pressure, and body mass index (BMI) were recorded before and after practicing Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise and regular walking for 10 weeks, respectively. Serum glucose, cholesterol, and peripheral blood including B and T cell counts were also measured. They underwent one-minute bent-knee sit-ups, sit and reach test, and three-minute gradual step test. Results. Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise enhanced parasympathetic modulation and attenuated sympathetic nerve control with increased very low frequency (VLF) and high frequency (HF) but decreased low frequency (LF) compared to the control group. Metabolic profiles including serum glucose, cholesterol, and BMI significantly improved after exercise. The exercise enhanced innate and adaptive immunity by increasing the counts of CD3+ T cells, CD19+ B cells, and CD16+CD56+ NK cells but decreasing the CD3+ cytotoxic T cell count. All monitored parameters including physical fitness and physical strength improved after the exercise. Conclusion. Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise improves autonomic modulation, body metabolism, physical fitness, and physical strength after 10 weeks of practice.

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2018/6351938/

 

Reduce Psychological Distress Levels of Prison Inmates with Yoga

Reduce Psychological Distress Levels of Prison Inmates with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Ninety percent of the prison population will be released, and if we provide people with skills to reinforce the deeper good in their nature and their stronger, better selves while they are in prison, they will take that with them.” – Kath Meadows

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Contemplative practices are well suited to the prison environment. Mindfulness training teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It’s been shown to be useful in the treatment of the effects of trauma and attention deficit disorder. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

Yoga practice, because of its mindfulness plus physical exercise characteristics, would seem to be ideal for the needs of an incarcerated population. Indeed, it has been shown to be beneficial for prisoners. In today’s Research News article “Yoga Practice Reduces the Psychological Distress Levels of Prison Inmates.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6129942/ ), Sfendla and colleagues recruited adult male and female prison inmates and randomly assigned them to either engage in 10 weeks, once a week for 90 minutes, of hatha yoga practice or free choice exercise, including gym, walking, basketball, or football. They were measured before and after training for anxiety, depression, interpersonal sensitivity, hostility, obsessive-compulsive, psychoticism, paranoid ideation, phobic anxiety, and somatization.

 

They report that the yoga group significantly improved in global psychological symptoms and on each of the symptom dimensions. The exercise group also improved in global severity and all symptom dimensions except obsessive-compulsive, phobic anxiety, and somatization. In all cases the degree of improvement was greater in the yoga practice group and in the cases of obsessive-compulsive, phobic anxiety, and somatization the differences were statistically significant.

 

Hence, exercise in general and especially yoga practice significantly improved psychological distress levels in prison inmates. These results are particularly important as the yoga practice effects were compared to an appropriate active control condition. The results suggest that practicing yoga while in prison may improve the mental health of the prisoners and better prepare them for returning to society. It remains for future research to determine is the benefits are lasting or only occur in the immediate aftermath of training.

 

So, reduce psychological distress levels of prison inmates with yoga.

 

“We’ve got two and a quarter million people who are incarcerated and a 60 percent recidivism rate. That’s a dismal failure. So while we’ve got them, I think we should be allocating resources to give them the tools so that they don’t come back to prison.” – Jessica Rizzo

 

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

Sfendla, A., Malmström, P., Torstensson, S., & Kerekes, N. (2018). Yoga Practice Reduces the Psychological Distress Levels of Prison Inmates. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 407. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00407

Abstract

Background: Psychiatric ill-health is prevalent among prison inmates and often hampers their rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is crucial for reducing recidivistic offending. A few studies have presented evidence of the positive effect of yoga on the well-being of prison inmates. The conclusion of those previous studies that yoga is an effective method in the rehabilitation process of inmates, and deserves and requires further attention.

Aims: The current study aimed to evaluate the effect of 10 weeks of yoga practice on the mental health profile, operationalized in the form of psychological distress, of inmates.

Methods: One hundred and fifty-two volunteer participants (133 men; 19 women) were randomly placed in either of two groups: to participate in weekly 90-min yoga class (yoga group) or a weekly 90-min free-choice physical exercise (control group). The study period lasted for 10 weeks. Prior to and at the end of the study period the participants completed a battery of self-reported inventories, including the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI).

Results: Physical activity (including yoga) significantly reduced the inmates’ levels of psychological distress. Yoga practice improved all primary symptom dimensions and its positive effect on the obsessive-compulsive, paranoid ideation, and somatization symptom dimensions of the BSI stayed significant even when comparing with the control group.

Conclusions: Yoga as a form of physical activity is effective for reducing psychological distress levels in prison inmates, with specific effect on symptoms such as suspicious and fearful thoughts about losing autonomy, memory problems, difficulty in making decisions, trouble concentrating, obsessive thought, and perception of bodily dysfunction.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6129942/