Improve Osteopenia and Osteoporosis with Tai Chi

Improve Osteopenia and Osteoporosis with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“There are many ways that tai chi helps people with osteoporosis. An excellent study showed tai chi slowed down the loss of bone density approximately three fold.” – Paul Lam

 

Bone is living tissue that, like all living tissues, is constantly being broken down and replaced. Osteopenia and Osteoporosis occur when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the removal of old bone. This results in a loss of bone mass, causing bones to become weak and brittle. It can become so brittle that a fall or even mild stresses like bending over or coughing can cause a fracture. These fractures most commonly occur in the hip, wrist or spine. Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 200 million women worldwide. In the United States 54 million adults over 50 are affected by osteoporosis and low bone mass. Osteoporosis takes a huge personal and economic toll. The disability due to osteoporosis is greater than that caused by cancers and is comparable or greater than that lost to a variety of chronic diseases, such as arthritis, asthma and high blood pressure related heart disease.

 

The most common treatments for osteoporosis are drugs which slow down the breakdown of bone, combined with exercise. The side effects of the drugs are mild, including upset stomach and heartburn. But there is a major compliance problem as the drugs must be taken over very long periods of time. In fact, only about a third of patients continue to take their medications for at least a year. Even when drugs are taken, exercise is recommended to improve bone growth. Indeed the mindful movement exercise of yoga has been shown to improve osteoporosis. The ancient mindful movement technique Tai Chi is a very safe form of gentle exercise that is beneficial for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. With accumulating evidence it is a good idea to step back and summarize what is known about the application of Tai Chi practice for the treatment of osteoporosis.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai chi for treating osteopenia and primary osteoporosis: a meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis. Clinical interventions in aging.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6322510/ ), Zhang and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the published research literature regarding the application of Tai Chi practice for the treatment of osteopenia and osteoporosis. They discovered 15 published randomized controlled trials.

 

They found that the research studies reported that Tai Chi practice produced a significant increase in bone mineral density and bone gla protein. In addition, Tai Chi practice produced a significant reduction in pain from osteoporosis. These are positive and encouraging results but the authors caution that the quality of the studies was not high and that larger better controlled trials are needed.

 

Tai Chi is 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, Tai Chi practice would appear to be an excellent gentle mindfulness training and light exercise to improve bone density in patients with osteopenia and osteoporosis.

 

So, improve osteopenia and osteoporosis with Tai Chi.

 

“Tai chi has lots of potential benefits that are well-proven. Even if its direct effects on bone strength and quality are limited, it can still help prevent fractures because it improves balance, neuromuscular coordination and postural stability, thus reducing the risk of falls.” – Berkeley Wellness

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Zhang, Y., Chai, Y., Pan, X., Shen, H., Wei, X., & Xie, Y. (2019). Tai chi for treating osteopenia and primary osteoporosis: a meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis. Clinical interventions in aging, 14, 91-104. doi:10.2147/CIA.S187588

 

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this meta-analysis was to evaluate the efficacy of Tai chi (TC) as an adjuvant treatment for osteopenia and primary osteoporosis.

Methods

We went through eight databases to identify relevant randomized controlled trials that compared TC with a control group. The primary outcome was osteoporosis-related fractures (fracture incidence). Meta-analyses and trial sequential analyses (TSA) were conducted using RevMan 5.3 and TSA 0.9.

Results

Fifteen randomized controlled trials involving a total of 857 patients were included in the analyses. No trials reported primary outcome; however, bone mineral density (BMD) values differed significantly in subgroup 1 (TC vs no treatment; weighted mean difference [WMD] =0.05 g/cm2, 95% CI 0.03 to 0.07; P<0.00001; P for heterogeneity =0.22, I2=22%) and subgroup 2 (TC vs conventional treatments; WMD =0.16 g/cm2, 95% CI 0.11 to 0.21; P<0.00001; P for heterogeneity =0.008, I2=75%). In addition, two trials compared TC with conventional treatments, which found a significant difference in bone gla protein (standardized mean difference =−1.18, 95% CI −1.66 to −0.70; P<0.00001; P for heterogeneity =0.58, I2=75%). The results of the BMD were confirmed by TSA. Also, TC may have a certain effect on the relief of osteoporotic pain (WMD = −2.61, 95% CI −3.51 to −1.71; WMD = −1.39, 95% CI −2.01 to −0.77). However, it did not promote the quality of life, level of serum calcium, serum phosphorus, and also had no effect on bone turnover markers.

Conclusion

Although there is no study monitoring fracture incidence, TC may be beneficial for patients in improving BMD values, level of bone gla protein, and relieving osteoporotic pain. However, due to the low methodological quality, current evidence for treating osteopenia and primary osteoporosis through TC is insufficient.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6322510/

 

Improve Physical Fitness with Online Yoga and Tai Chi Practice

Improve Physical Fitness with Online Yoga and Tai Chi Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Once tai chi and yoga are broken down individually, it’s safe to say, they’re almost identical in benefits and components. The main difference is in execution. Yoga involves holding poses and postures. Tai chi is performed in a dance-like, martial arts form. Both can be rigorous, or low impact, depending on the person’s fitness level.” – KXTV

 

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 systemreduce inflammationincrease the number of cancer killing cells in the bloodstream and improve cardiovascular function.

 

Yoga practice has been shown to have a myriad of benefits for psychological and physical health. It is both an exercise and a mind-body practice that stresses both mental attention to present moment movements, breath control, and flexibility, range of motion, and balance. It has been shown to improve balance and flexibility in older individuals.  It is safe and can be practiced by anyone from children to seniors. Recently, there have been a number of high-profile athletes who have adopted a yoga practice to improve their athletic performance.

 

Both Tai Chi and Yoga are taught in studios by experienced teachers. But this is often not convenient or available. An alternative is online teaching and practice. There is, however, little known regarding the effectiveness of these online programs. In today’s Research News article “Effects of Online Yoga and Tai Chi on Physical Health Outcome Measures of Adult Informal Caregivers.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329221/ ), Martin and Candow recruited informal caregivers and randomly assigned them to receive 12 weeks of 150 minutes per week of either online vinyasa yoga or online Tai Chi practice. The participants were measured before and after training for muscle strength and endurance, handgrip strength, walking speed, balance, and flexibility.

 

They found that both groups improved on all measures from the baseline to the completion of training. There were no significant differences found between yoga and tai chi practices except in the case of chest press endurance and abdominal curl up where yoga practice was superior to Tai Chi practice. Hence, both yoga and Tai Chi practice improved the physical abilities of these informal caregivers with yoga practice being slightly better.

 

Caregivers tend to be fairly inactive. So, the engagement in yoga or Tai Chi exercises may be important for the overall health of the participants and their ability to provide care and not burnout. An important component of this study was that the training was done online. Caregivers are usually stressed and have little free time. So, the ability to practice according to their own schedules and at home is a major advantage.

 

So, improve physical fitness with online yoga and Tai Chi practice.

 

”Tai Chi as a powerful tool for disease-prevention—deep relaxation may initiate more of our “disease-fighting” genes when relaxation-exercises are performed routinely over time.” – Jeremey Wiseman

 

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

 

Martin, A. C., & Candow, D. (2019). Effects of Online Yoga and Tai Chi on Physical Health Outcome Measures of Adult Informal Caregivers. International journal of yoga, 12(1), 37-44.

 

Abstract

Aims:

This study aimed to investigate the effects of online Vinyasa Yoga (VY) and Taijifit™ (12 weeks) in informal caregivers (≥18 years of age).

Methods:

Twenty-nine participants were randomized to two groups: VY (n = 16, 55.87 ± 12.31 years) or Taijifit™ (n= 13, 55.07 ± 12.65 years).

Main Outcome Measures:

Prior to and following the study, assessments were made for muscle strength (1-RM leg press, chest press, and handgrip), muscle endurance (leg press and chest press; maximal number of repetitions performed to fatigue at 80% and 70% baseline 1-RM, respectively), abdominal endurance (maximum number of consecutive curl-ups to fatigue), tasks of functionality (dynamic balance and walking speed), and flexibility (sit and reach).

Results:

There was a significant increase over time for muscle strength, muscle endurance, tasks of functionality, and flexibility (P = 0.001). The VY group experienced a greater improvement in chest press endurance (VY: pre 19.25 ± 5.90, post 28.06 ± 7.60 reps; Taijifit™ pre 15.69 ± 4.49, post 21.07 ± 5.85 reps; P = 0.019) and abdominal endurance (VY: pre 37.12 ± 31.26, post 68.43 ± 55.07 reps; Taijifit™ pre 19.23 ± 19.00, post 32.07 ± 20.87 reps; P = 0.034) compared to the Taijifit™ group.

Conclusions:

VY and Taijifit™ are effective for improving muscle strength and endurance, tasks of functionality, and flexibility in informal caregivers. VY led to greater gains in chest press endurance and abdominal curl-ups.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329221/

 

Protect the Brain from Age-Related Atrophy with Tai Chi

Protect the Brain from Age-Related Atrophy with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Tai Chi . . improves brain health and can be an effective solution for simple, age-related decline in brain function.” – FAI Education

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem-solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. Using modern neuroimaging techniques, scientists have been able to view the changes that occur in the nervous system with aging. In addition, they have been able to investigate various techniques that might slow the process of neurodegeneration that accompanies normal aging. They’ve 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 and to increase brain matter in the elderly.

 

In today’s Research News article “Long-Term Tai Chi Experience Promotes Emotional Stability and Slows Gray Matter Atrophy for Elders.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00091/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_907099_69_Psycho_20190212_arts_A ), Liu and colleagues recruited older (60 to 70 years of age) adults who had been practicing Tai Chi for at least 10 years and control participants who were matched to the Tai Chi group on age, physical activity and gender. They were measured for mindfulness, depression, impulsivity, and personality. They also underwent brain scanning with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The participants also completed a computerized risk-taking task which had both positive or negative outcomes. They completed emotion ratings after each outcome.

 

They found that the experienced Tai Chi practitioners had significantly greater emotional stability and took less risks than the control group. Additionally, the Tai Chi group had significantly stronger emotional reactions to both good and bad outcomes in the risk-taking task. The brain scans revealed that the Tai Chi group had significantly greater grey matter in the areas of the brain known as the hippocampus and the thalamus. They also found that the greater the grey matter in the thalamus the greater the levels of mindfulness and emotional stability while the greater the grey matter in the hippocampus the greater the levels of emotional stability and lower levels of neuroticism and risk taking.

 

These are interesting results but the study is correlational and cross sectional. So, care must be exercised in interpretation of causation. But the fact that the control group was equally physically active as the Tai Chi group is a strength that suggests that the results were due to Tai Chi practice per se and not just to the physical activity produced by Tai Chi practice. The results suggest that Tai Chi practice may help to protect the brain, particularly the thalamus and hippocampus, from age-related degeneration as has been previously reported, and this protection may be associated with greater emotional stability and lower risk taking.

 

The findings of less risk taking of the elderly Tai Chi participants may be an important observation. The elderly may be vulnerable to injury and falls that can produce serious injuries in this group. One reason that Tai Chi may produce fewer falls in the elderly is that they are being more careful and taking fewer risks. The elderly are also financially vulnerable and may benefit from less financial risk taking in protecting their available resources.

 

So, protect the brain from age-related atrophy with Tai Chi.

 

regular practice of Tai Chi could play an important role in promoting both brain and muscle health in older adults. Tai Chi is a mind-body exercise worth exploring at any age.” – Marilyn Wei

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available at the Contemplative Studies Blog http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/

They are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Liu S, Li L, Liu Z and Guo X (2019) Long-Term Tai Chi Experience Promotes Emotional Stability and Slows Gray Matter Atrophy for Elders. Front. Psychol. 10:91. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00091

 

Brain adverse structural changes, especially the atrophy of gray matter, are inevitable in aging. Fortunately, the human brain is plastic throughout its entire life. The current cross-section study aimed to investigate whether long-term Tai Chi exercise could slow gray matter atrophy and explore the possible links among gray matter volume (GMV), long-term Tai Chi experience and emotional stability in a sequential risk-taking task by using voxel-based morphometry. Elders with long-term Tai Chi experience and controls, who were matched to Tai Chi group in age, gender, physical activity level, participated in the study. A T1-weighted multiplanar reconstruction sequence was acquired for each participant. Behaviorally, the Tai Chi group showed higher meditation level, stronger emotional stability and less risk-taking tendency in the sequential risk-taking compared to the control group. Moreover, the results revealed that the GMV of the thalamus and hippocampus were larger in the Tai Chi group compared with the control group. Notably, the GMV of the thalamus was positively correlated with both meditation level and emotional stability. The current study suggested the protective role of long-term Tai Chi exercise at slowing gray matter atrophy, improving the emotional stability and achieving successful aging for elders.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00091/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_907099_69_Psycho_20190212_arts_A

 

Reduce Spinal Degeneration in the Elderly with Tai Chi Practice

Reduce Spinal Degeneration in the Elderly with Tai Chi Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Tai Chi has been studied as a form of therapeutic exercise and has been shown to improve balance and prevent falls in the elderly.  It can also be a safe and effective way to improve leg strength, hip range of motion, and posture, and is a gentle way to improve neck, shoulder and arm range of motion and movement patterns. The integration of breathing, movement, and energy awareness aspects of this exercise form equates to a “spine-healthy” activity.” – Denver Back Pain

 

Human life is one of constant change. We revel in our increases in physical and mental capacities during development, but regret their decreases during aging. The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. This includes our mental abilities which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem-solving ability. A consequence of the physical decline is impaired balance. It is a particular problem as it can lead to falls. The spine also deteriorates and with age there can be degeneration of the vertebrae and discs.

 

There is some hope for age related decline, however, as there is evidence that it can be slowed. There are some indications that physical and mental exercise can reduce the rate of decline. For example, contemplative practices such as meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi or qigong have all been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging. Tai Chi is also known to improve spinal health. So, it would seem reasonable to examine the ability of Tai Chi practice to slow or prevent age related increases in the degeneration of the vertebrae and discs.

 

In today’s Research News article “.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5971519/ ), Deng and Xia recruited long-term Tai Chi practitioners between the ages of 50 to 70 years and a group of non-practitioners who were matched for gender, age, weight, height, and body mass index (BMI). All participants underwent a lumbar vertebral Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The images were evaluated by a blinded radiologist for “lumbar vertebrae with degeneration (osteoporosis, hyperosteogeny) and lumbar discs with degeneration (low signal intensity, herniation).”

 

They found that the Tai Chi practitioners had significantly fewer (27%) degenerated vertebra and significantly fewer (21%) degenerated discs than the matched control participants. The authors attributed the lower amount of degeneration to the strengthening of back muscles that is produced by Tai Chi Practice.

 

This study does not contain randomized groups with manipulated Tai Chi participation. As such, conclusions regarding causation need to be tempered. It is possible that people who have or are prone to lumbar degeneration are the people who do not engage in Tai Chi practice. Randomized Clinical Research is needed to clarify this point.

 

But, those older adults who practiced Tai Chi clearly had less lumbar degeneration. This suggests that this group will have enhanced spinal health and will experience less debilitating back pain as they age.

 

So, reduce spinal degeneration in the elderly with Tai Chi practice.

 

“Strengthening the back stabilizer muscles is very similar to tai chi training. The key is an upright posture, using abdominal breathing, and exercising the stabilizers through the pelvic floor and the transverse abdominus muscles. This is one of the major reasons why tai chi works so well for back pain.” – Kelly Rehan

 

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

 

Deng, C., & Xia, W. (2017). Effect of Tai Chi Chuan on degeneration of lumbar vertebrae and lumbar discs in middle-aged and aged people: a cross-sectional study based on magnetic resonance images. The Journal of international medical research, 46(2), 578-585.

 

Short abstract

Objective

Exercise has a positive effect on physical fitness. Tai Chi Chuan is a traditional Chinese aerobic exercise. We assessed the effect of Tai Chi on the degeneration of lumbar vertebrae and lumbar discs with magnetic resonance images.

Methods

This retrospective cohort study involved 2 groups of participants: 27 Tai Chi practitioners with more than 4 years of experience with regular Tai Chi exercise and 24 sex- and age-matched participants without Tai Chi experience. The lumbar magnetic resonance images of all participants were collected. The numbers of degenerated lumbar vertebrae and lumbar discs were evaluated by the same radiologist, who was blind to the grouping.

Results

The Tai Chi practitioners had significantly fewer degenerated lumbar vertebrae (1.9) and lumbar discs (2.3) than the control group (2.6 and 2.9, respectively). The most severely affected lumbar vertebrae and discs were L5 and L4/L5, respectively.

Conclusion

Regular performance of the simplified Tai Chi 24 form could possibly retard the degeneration of lumbar vertebrae and lumbar discs in middle-aged and aged people.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5971519/

 

Reduce Stress and Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function with Tai Chi or Yoga

Reduce Stress and Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function with Tai Chi or Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The rate of individuals suffering from autonomic nervous system dysfunctions is fast on the rise, due to our high stress and stimulative 21st-century lifestyles. However unknown to many practitioners, there are several natural therapies which are proven to help support the balance of the autonomic nervous system such as meditation and often have fewer side-effects and are better tolerated than many pharmaceutical medications.” –  NaturalHealthBlogger

 

There is an accumulating volume of research findings to demonstrate that Mind-body practices have highly beneficial effects on the health and well-being of humans. These include yoga, tai chi, and qigong, among many others. Because of their proven benefits the application of these practices to relieving human suffering has skyrocketed. 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.  Yoga practice has been shown to have a large number of beneficial effects on the psychological, emotional, and physical health of the individual and is helpful in the treatment of mental and physical illness.

 

One way that these Mind-body practices may have their beneficial effects is by providing balance in the autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic division underlies activation while the parasympathetic division underlies relaxation. When these divisions are out of balance the individual may be overly stressed or overly sedentary. Appropriate balance is important for health and well-being. A measure of balance is provided by the variability of the heart rate. Moderated heart rate variability reflects balance in the autonomic nervous system.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mind⁻Body Exercises (Tai Chi/Yoga) on Heart Rate Variability Parameters and Perceived Stress: A Systematic Review with 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/PMC6262541/ ), Zou and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of tai chi and yoga on a measure of autonomic balance; heart rate variability. They discovered 17 research publications reporting on research studies of fair to high quality.

 

They report that after both tai chi or yoga practice there are large significant reductions in perceived stress levels. Also, after practice there were small, albeit significant reductions in the normalized low-frequency component of heart rate variation and the ratio of low frequency to high frequency variations and significant increases in the normalized high-frequency component. These components are thought to be indicative of sympathetic and vagal modulation, sympathetic modulation, and sympathetic activity. These effects on heart rate variation components suggest that after tai chi and yoga practice there is better balance in the autonomic nervous system. Additionally, the published studies indicate that while both tai chi and yoga practice decrease stress and improve autonomic balance, that a minimum of 90 minutes per week of yoga practice produces better results.

 

These results are interesting and important. They suggest that tai chi and especially yoga practice promote health and well-being and may do so by reducing perceived levels of stress and balancing the autonomic nervous system. Yoga practice is generally a more intense exercise and it is likely that this greater intensity of exercise is responsible for yoga’s superiority. But Tai Chi is gentle, safe, and easily practiced conveniently without a professional teacher. Hence, it may be better adapted to integration into the daily lifestyle of the individual.

 

So, reduce stress and improve autonomic nervous system function with tai chi or yoga.

 

Practicing yoga is an excellent way to stimulate and bring circuitry to the important parasympathetic nervous system. The gentle movements and slow rhythmic breathing slow the heart and blood pressure. Yoga redirects blood flow to the reproductive and digestive organs. Regular yoga practice results in a sustained state of strength and health, as well as mind and body balance. Tai Chi is widely used for its variety of health benefits and its adaptability to any age or level of fitness. It is an effective technique that enhances your body’s ability to use the mind to get in touch with the body through the nervous system. The results of continued practice include increased awareness, strengthened nerves, and better coordination, to name a few.” – Aleksandra Eifler

 

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

 

Zou, L., Sasaki, J. E., Wei, G. X., Huang, T., Yeung, A. S., Neto, O. B., Chen, K. W., … Hui, S. S. (2018). Effects of Mind⁻Body Exercises (Tai Chi/Yoga) on Heart Rate Variability Parameters and Perceived Stress: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of clinical medicine, 7(11), 404. doi:10.3390/jcm7110404

 

Abstract

Background: Heart rate variability (HRV) as an accurate, noninvasive measure of the Autonomous Nervous System (ANS) can reflect mental health (e.g., stress, depression, or anxiety). Tai Chi and Yoga (Tai Chi/Yoga), as the most widely practiced mind–body exercises, have shown positive outcomes of mental health. To date, no systematic review regarding the long-lasting effects of Tai Chi/Yoga on HRV parameters and perceived stress has been conducted. Objective: To critically evaluate the existing literature on this topic. Methods: Five electronic databases (Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus, SportDiscus and Cochrane Library) were searched from the start of the research project to July 2018. Study selection, data extraction, and study quality assessment were independently carried out by two reviewers. The potentially identified randomized controlled trials (RCT) reported the useful quantitative data that were included only for meta-analysis. Results: meta-analysis of 17 medium-to-high quality RCTs showed significantly beneficial effects on HRV parameters (normalized low-frequency, Hedge’s g = −0.39, 95% CI −0.39 to −0.56, p < 0.001, I2 = 11.62%; normalized high-frequency, Hedge’s g = 0.37, 95% CI 0.22 to −0.52, p < 0.001, I2 = 0%; low-frequency to high-frequency ratio, Hedge’s g = −0.58, 95% CI −0.81 to −0.35, p < 0.001, I2 = 53.78%) and stress level (Hedge’s g = −0.80, 95% CI −1.17 to −0.44, p < 0.001, I2 = 68.54%). Conclusions: Stress reduction may be attributed to sympathetic-vagal balance modulated by mind–body exercises. Tai Chi/Yoga could be an alternative method for stress reduction for people who live under high stress or negative emotions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6262541/

 

Reduce Stress and Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function with Tai Chi or Yoga

Reduce Stress and Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function with Tai Chi or Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The rate of individuals suffering from autonomic nervous system dysfunctions is fast on the rise, due to our high stress and stimulative 21st-century lifestyles. However unknown to many practitioners, there are several natural therapies which are proven to help support the balance of the autonomic nervous system such as meditation and often have fewer side-effects and are better tolerated than many pharmaceutical medications.” –  NaturalHealthBlogger

 

There is an accumulating volume of research findings to demonstrate that Mind-body practices have highly beneficial effects on the health and well-being of humans. These include yoga, tai chi, and qigong, among many others. Because of their proven benefits the application of these practices to relieving human suffering has skyrocketed. 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.  Yoga practice has been shown to have a large number of beneficial effects on the psychological, emotional, and physical health of the individual and is helpful in the treatment of mental and physical illness.

 

One way that these Mind-body practices may have their beneficial effects is by providing balance in the autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic division underlies activation while the parasympathetic division underlies relaxation. When these divisions are out of balance the individual may be overly stressed or overly sedentary. Appropriate balance is important for health and well-being. A measure of balance is provided by the variability of the heart rate. Moderated heart rate variability reflects balance in the autonomic nervous system.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mind⁻Body Exercises (Tai Chi/Yoga) on Heart Rate Variability Parameters and Perceived Stress: A Systematic Review with 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/PMC6262541/ ), Zou and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of tai chi and yoga on a measure of autonomic balance; heart rate variability. They discovered 17 research publications reporting on research studies of fair to high quality.

 

They report that after both tai chi or yoga practice there are large significant reductions in perceived stress levels. Also, after practice there were small, albeit significant reductions in the normalized low-frequency component of heart rate variation and the ratio of low frequency to high frequency variations and significant increases in the normalized high-frequency component. These components are thought to be indicative of sympathetic and vagal modulation, sympathetic modulation, and sympathetic activity. These effects on heart rate variation components suggest that after tai chi and yoga practice there is better balance in the autonomic nervous system. Additionally, the published studies indicate that while both tai chi and yoga practice decrease stress and improve autonomic balance, that a minimum of 90 minutes per week of yoga practice produces better results.

 

These results are interesting and important. They suggest that tai chi and especially yoga practice promote health and well-being and may do so by reducing perceived levels of stress and balancing the autonomic nervous system. Yoga practice is generally a more intense exercise and it is likely that this greater intensity of exercise is responsible for yoga’s superiority. But Tai Chi is gentle, safe, and easily practiced conveniently without a professional teacher. Hence, it may be better adapted to integration into the daily lifestyle of the individual.

 

So, reduce stress and improve autonomic nervous system function with tai chi or yoga.

 

Practicing yoga is an excellent way to stimulate and bring circuitry to the important parasympathetic nervous system. The gentle movements and slow rhythmic breathing slow the heart and blood pressure. Yoga redirects blood flow to the reproductive and digestive organs. Regular yoga practice results in a sustained state of strength and health, as well as mind and body balance. Tai Chi is widely used for its variety of health benefits and its adaptability to any age or level of fitness. It is an effective technique that enhances your body’s ability to use the mind to get in touch with the body through the nervous system. The results of continued practice include increased awareness, strengthened nerves, and better coordination, to name a few.” – Aleksandra Eifler

 

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

 

Zou, L., Sasaki, J. E., Wei, G. X., Huang, T., Yeung, A. S., Neto, O. B., Chen, K. W., … Hui, S. S. (2018). Effects of Mind⁻Body Exercises (Tai Chi/Yoga) on Heart Rate Variability Parameters and Perceived Stress: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of clinical medicine, 7(11), 404. doi:10.3390/jcm7110404

 

Abstract

Background: Heart rate variability (HRV) as an accurate, noninvasive measure of the Autonomous Nervous System (ANS) can reflect mental health (e.g., stress, depression, or anxiety). Tai Chi and Yoga (Tai Chi/Yoga), as the most widely practiced mind–body exercises, have shown positive outcomes of mental health. To date, no systematic review regarding the long-lasting effects of Tai Chi/Yoga on HRV parameters and perceived stress has been conducted. Objective: To critically evaluate the existing literature on this topic. Methods: Five electronic databases (Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus, SportDiscus and Cochrane Library) were searched from the start of the research project to July 2018. Study selection, data extraction, and study quality assessment were independently carried out by two reviewers. The potentially identified randomized controlled trials (RCT) reported the useful quantitative data that were included only for meta-analysis. Results: meta-analysis of 17 medium-to-high quality RCTs showed significantly beneficial effects on HRV parameters (normalized low-frequency, Hedge’s g = −0.39, 95% CI −0.39 to −0.56, p < 0.001, I2 = 11.62%; normalized high-frequency, Hedge’s g = 0.37, 95% CI 0.22 to −0.52, p < 0.001, I2 = 0%; low-frequency to high-frequency ratio, Hedge’s g = −0.58, 95% CI −0.81 to −0.35, p < 0.001, I2 = 53.78%) and stress level (Hedge’s g = −0.80, 95% CI −1.17 to −0.44, p < 0.001, I2 = 68.54%). Conclusions: Stress reduction may be attributed to sympathetic-vagal balance modulated by mind–body exercises. Tai Chi/Yoga could be an alternative method for stress reduction for people who live under high stress or negative emotions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6262541/

 

Sleep and Fatigue is not Improved in Prostate Cancer Patients Undergoing Radiotherapy with Qigong/Tai Chi Exercise

Sleep and Fatigue is not Improved in Prostate Cancer Patients Undergoing Radiotherapy with Qigong/Tai Chi Exercise

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“While most studies to date fail to show that qigong has a direct effect on cancer, several studies have found this practice to have a positive impact on the well-being and quality of life for people living with cancer.” – Lynne Eldridge

 

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. These feeling can result from changes in body image, changes to family and work roles, feelings of grief at these losses, and physical symptoms such as pain, nausea, or fatigue. People might also fear death, suffering, pain, or all the unknown things that lie ahead. So, coping with the emotions and stress of a cancer diagnosis is a challenge and there are no simple treatments for these psychological sequelae of cancer diagnosis.

 

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. It is estimated that 15 million adults and children with a history of cancer are alive in the United States today. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. “Physical, emotional, and financial hardships often persist for years after diagnosis and treatment. Cancer survivors are also at greater risk for developing second cancers and other health conditions.” National Cancer Survivors Day.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression.. Tai Chi or Qigong practice has been shown to improve quality of life, reduce fatigue, and lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. Qigong is a very gentle and safe practice. So, it makes sense to further study its utility for cancer patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “Qigong/tai chi for sleep and fatigue in prostate cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy: a randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5378667/ ), McQuade and colleagues recruited prostate cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy and randomly assigned them to one of three conditions; Qigong/Tai Chi; light exercise; or wait-list control. The Qigong/Tai Chi and light exercise training occurred three times per week for 40 minutes during radiotherapy treatment. Light exercise consisted of stretching and light resistance exercise matched to the exertion level of the Qigong/Tai Chi exercise. They were measured before, during, and after treatment and 1 and 3 months later for sleep disturbance, fatigue, and health-related quality of life.

 

They found that midway through treatment the Qigong/Tai Chi group slept better than the other groups but these differences were not maintained at the end of treatment or on follow-up. There were no significant effects or treatment on fatigue or quality of life. In some ways these results are disappointing and suggest that Qigong/Tai Chi is not effective in helping prostate cancer patients during radiotherapy.

 

Radiotherapy, however, produces considerable side effects including hot flashes and urinary symptoms that are highly predictive of sleep disturbance, fatigue, and quality of life. In addition, Qigong/Tai Chi exercise has been shown to improve quality of life, reduce fatigue in other cancer patients after treatment. It will require future research to determine if Qigong/Tai Chi exercise conducted after radiotherapy is completed may be beneficial for these patients.

 

“Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient forms of exercise that fit the bill for helping patients with cancer get moving and improve their overall sense of well-being. Tai Chi practice can help with pain conditions, especially pain involving muscles and joints; it can also reduce stress and anxiety and improve the quality of sleep.” – Susan Yaguda

 

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

 

McQuade, J. L., Prinsloo, S., Chang, D. Z., Spelman, A., Wei, Q., Basen-Engquist, K., Harrison, C., Zhang, Z., Kuban, D., Lee, A., … Cohen, L. (2016). Qigong/tai chi for sleep and fatigue in prostate cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy: a randomized controlled trial. Psycho-oncology, 26(11), 1936-1943.

 

Abstract

Objectives

Sleep disturbances and fatigue are common in prostate cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy. Prior research suggests mind-body techniques may improve these outcomes. We conducted a randomized-controlled trial of qigong/tai chi (QGTC) in men with prostate cancer undergoing radiotherapy.

Methods

Men with prostate cancer starting definitive radiation were randomized to one of three groups: (1) QGTC; (2) light exercise (LE); or (3) wait list control (WLC). Sleep disturbances (PSQI) and fatigue (BFI) were assessed at baseline, mid-radiotherapy (T2), during the last week of radiotherapy (T3) and at 1 (T4) and 3 months (T5) after the end of radiotherapy. Patients in the QGTC and LE groups attended three 40-minute classes per week throughout radiotherapy.

Results

Ninety patients were randomized to the three groups (QGTC=26; LE=26; WLC=24). QGTC group reported longer sleep duration at mid-XRT (QGTC=7.01 hours; LE=6.42; WL=6.50; p=0.05) but this difference did not persist over time. There were no group differences in other domains of sleep or fatigue. Exploratory analyses conducted to examine the effect of health-related QOL (EPIC and AUA score) on sleep and fatigue showed significant correlations across multiple domains.

Conclusions

QGTC during radiation for prostate cancer resulted in superior sleep duration midway through radiation, but this effect was not durable and there were no differences in other domains of sleep or fatigue. Exploratory analysis demonstrated that both sleep and fatigue were highly correlated with prostate cancer related physical symptoms. Future mind-body intervention studies should incorporate multi-modal therapy focused on improving physical symptoms in this population.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5378667/

 

Reduce Falls in the Elderly with Tai Chi Practice

Reduce Falls in the Elderly with Tai Chi Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Seniors who practice tai chi – a Chinese meditation practice that combines deep breathing and slow, fluid movements – may be less likely to fall than their peers who don’t do this type of exercise.” – Lisa Rapaport

 

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. In the U.S. one third of people over 65 fall each year and 2.5 million are treated in emergency rooms for injuries produced by falls. About 1% of falls result in deaths making it the leading cause of death due to injury among the elderly.

 

Falls, with or without injury, also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults, fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness. It is obviously important to discover methods to improve balance and decrease the number of falls in the elderly.

 

Tai Chi training is designed to enhance and regulate the functional activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. It includes balance training and has been shown to improve balance and coordination. Indeed, Tai Chi training has been shown to reduce the frequency of falls in the elderly. It is not known, however, if Tai Chi training is better or worse than other exercises for reducing falls in the elderly.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effectiveness of a Therapeutic Tai Ji Quan Intervention vs a Multimodal Exercise Intervention to Prevent Falls Among Older Adults at High Risk of Falling: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6233748/ ), Harmer and colleagues recruited  health elderly individuals, 70 years of age or older, who had fallen at least once in the last year and randomly assigned them to one of three groups, Tai Chi, stretching exercise, or multimodal exercise including aerobic exercise, balance, flexibility, and strength exercises. All groups practiced twice a week for 1 hour for 24 weeks. The participants were measured before, in the middle, at the end of training, and monthly follow-up telephone calls for falls, fall injuries, physical performance, and cognitive function.

 

They found that during the 12 weeks of training and 6-month follow-up period that the group that practiced Tai Chi had significantly fewer falls and fewer falls that caused moderate or serious injuries than the multimodal exercise group which, in turn, had fewer falls and injuries than the stretching group. In addition, at the end of training the participants in the Tai Chi group and the multimodal exercise group had significantly greater improvements in cognitive and physical performance than the stretching group.

 

The results are interesting and important. They suggest that engaging in Tai Chi exercise reduces falls and improves physical and cognitive performance in the elderly and that Tai Chi exercise is superior to multimodal exercise and stretching in reducing falls. This is important because of the comparisons of types of exercise showed a significant superiority for Tai Chi Exercise. They are also important because of the severity of the consequences of falling for longevity, health, and well-being of the elderly. As an additional bonus Tai Chi exercise appears to reduce the cognitive decline that routinely occurs with aging.

 

It is important to recognize that Tai Chi is a gentle and safe exercise that is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion, such as stroke recovery. Also, Tai Chi 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, Tai Chi practice would appear to be an almost ideal gentle exercise to prevent falls in the elderly and improve their physical and cognitive health and well-being.

 

So, reduce falls in the elderly with Tai Chi practice.

 

Balance training based on the Chinese martial arts discipline tai ji quan — better known as tai chi — reduced falling risks among the elderly more than conventional forms of exercise.” – Ashley Lyles

 

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

 

Li, F., Harmer, P., Fitzgerald, K., Eckstrom, E., Akers, L., Chou, L. S., Pidgeon, D., Voit, J., … Winters-Stone, K. (2018). Effectiveness of a Therapeutic Tai Ji Quan Intervention vs a Multimodal Exercise Intervention to Prevent Falls Among Older Adults at High Risk of Falling: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA internal medicine, 178(10), 1301-1310.

 

Key Points

Question

Is a fall prevention–specific tai ji quan intervention clinically more effective in reducing falls among older adults at high risk of falling than a stretching intervention (control) or a standard multimodal exercise intervention?

Findings

In a randomized clinical trial involving 670 adults 70 years or older with a history of falls or impaired mobility, the therapeutic tai ji quan intervention effectively reduced falls by 58% compared with the stretching exercise (control intervention) and by 31% compared with a multimodal exercise intervention.

Meaning

For older adults at high risk of falling, a therapeutically tailored tai ji quan intervention was more effective than stretching or multimodal exercises in reducing the incidence of falls.

Question

Is a fall prevention–specific tai ji quan intervention clinically more effective in reducing falls among older adults at high risk of falling than a stretching intervention (control) or a standard multimodal exercise intervention?

Findings

In a randomized clinical trial involving 670 adults 70 years or older with a history of falls or impaired mobility, the therapeutic tai ji quan intervention effectively reduced falls by 58% compared with the stretching exercise (control intervention) and by 31% compared with a multimodal exercise intervention.

Meaning

For older adults at high risk of falling, a therapeutically tailored tai ji quan intervention was more effective than stretching or multimodal exercises in reducing the incidence of falls.

Question

Is a fall prevention–specific tai ji quan intervention clinically more effective in reducing falls among older adults at high risk of falling than a stretching intervention (control) or a standard multimodal exercise intervention?

Findings

In a randomized clinical trial involving 670 adults 70 years or older with a history of falls or impaired mobility, the therapeutic tai ji quan intervention effectively reduced falls by 58% compared with the stretching exercise (control intervention) and by 31% compared with a multimodal exercise intervention.

Meaning

For older adults at high risk of falling, a therapeutically tailored tai ji quan intervention was more effective than stretching or multimodal exercises in reducing the incidence of falls.

 

Abstract

Importance

Falls in older adults are a serious public health problem associated with irreversible health consequences and responsible for a substantial economic burden on health care systems. However, identifying optimal choices from among evidence-based fall prevention interventions is challenging as few comparative data for effectiveness are available.

Objective

To determine the effectiveness of a therapeutically tailored tai ji quan intervention, Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance (TJQMBB), developed on the classic concept of tai ji (also known as tai chi), and a multimodal exercise (MME) program relative to stretching exercise in reducing falls among older adults at high risk of falling.

Design, Setting, and Participants

A single-blind, 3-arm, parallel design, randomized clinical trial (February 20, 2015, to January 30, 2018), in 7 urban and suburban cities in Oregon. From 1147 community-dwelling adults 70 years or older screened for eligibility, 670 who had fallen in the preceding year or had impaired mobility consented and were enrolled. All analyses used intention-to-treat assignment.

Interventions

One of 3 exercise interventions: two 60-minute classes weekly for 24 weeks of TJQMBB, entailing modified forms and therapeutic movement exercises; MME, integrating balance, aerobics, strength, and flexibility activities; or stretching exercises.

Main Outcomes and Measures

The primary measure at 6 months was incidence of falls.

Results

Among 670 participants randomized, mean (SD) age was 77.7 (5.6) years, 436 (65%) were women, 617 (92.1%) were white, 31 (4.6%) were African American. During the trial, there were 152 falls (85 individuals) in the TJQMBB group, 218 (112 individuals) in the MME group, and 363 (127 individuals) in the stretching exercise group. At 6 months, the incidence rate ratio (IRR) was significantly lower in the TJQMBB (IRR, 0.42; 95% CI, 0.31-0.56; P < .001) and MME groups (IRR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.45-0.80; P = .001) compared with the stretching group. Falls were reduced by 31% for the TJQMBB group compared with the MME group (IRR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.52-0.94; P = .01).

Conclusions and Relevance

Among community-dwelling older adults at high risk for falls, a therapeutically tailored tai ji quan balance training intervention was more effective than conventional exercise approaches for reducing the incidence of falls.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6233748/Importance

 

Improve Balance in Stroke Victims with Tai Chi Practice

Improve Balance in Stroke Victims with Tai Chi Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Stroke can impair balance, heightening the risk of a debilitating fall. But  . . .  stroke survivors can improve their balance by practicing the Chinese martial art of tai chi.” – ScienceDaily

 

Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke and it is the third leading cause of death, killing around 140,000 Americans each year. A stroke results from an interruption of the blood supply to the brain, depriving it of needed oxygen and nutrients. This can result in the death of brain cells and depending on the extent of the damage produce profound loss of function. Even after recovery from stroke patients can experience residual symptoms. Problems with balance and falling are very common.

 

There are a number of risk factors for stroke that are unchangeable, such as family history, age, and genes. But there are a very large number of factors that are under our control including high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, poor diet, sedentariness, and obesity. Given this list it is clear that basic physical fitness and exercise would be excellent for stroke prevention. Yoga practice is an exercise that can be adapted to the needs and limitations of stroke victims. The ancient mindful movement technique Tai Chi and Qigong are very safe forms of gentle exercise that appears to be beneficial for stroke victims including improving balance. It is difficult to get stroke survivors to engage in exercise. Perhaps the practice of Tai Chi , since it is adaptable, very gentle, and fun, might be acceptable and effective in the treatment of stroke survivors.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of Tai Chi Exercise on Balance Function of Stroke Patients: A Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6289026/ ), Wu and colleagues review summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the published research literature on the effectiveness of Tai Chi in improving balance and preventing falls in stroke survivors. They identified 6 randomized controlled trials for inclusion in the analysis.

 

They found that the published research reported that after Tai Chi practice the stroke victims demonstrated significantly better balance and walking ability and fewer falls than stroke victims who performed physical therapy or other exercises. Hence, the published research supports the conclusion that Tai Chi practice is a safe and effective exercise for stroke victims to improve balance and decrease the likelihood of falls.

 

Tai Chi is a gentle and safe exercise that is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion, such as stroke recovery. Also, Tai Chi 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, Tai Chi practice would appear to be an almost ideal gentle exercise to improve motor ability and balance and reduce falls in stroke victims.

 

So, improve balance in strike victims with tai chi practice.

 

Stroke survivors are particularly at risk from falls, with evidence suggesting they suffer up to seven times as many falls per year than healthy adults. Tai Chi, an ancient Chinese martial art, could help prevent falls by improving people’s balance, muscle strength and endurance as well as providing psychological benefits.“ – Ruth Taylor-Piliae

 

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

 

Wu, S., Chen, J., Wang, S., Jiang, M., Wang, X., & Wen, Y. (2018). Effect of Tai Chi Exercise on Balance Function of Stroke Patients: A Meta-Analysis. Medical science monitor basic research, 24, 210-215. doi:10.12659/MSMBR.911951

 

Abstract

Background

Tai Chi is an ancient form of physical activity that has been shown to improve cardiovascular function, but to date there had been no comprehensive systematic review on the effect of Tai Chi exercise on balance function of patients with stroke. This study evaluated the effect of Tai Chi exercise on balance function in stroke patients.

Material/Methods

PubMed, Cochrane library, and China National Knowledge Information databases and the Wan Fang medical network were searched to collect the articles. The random-effects model was used to assess the effect of Tai Chi exercise on balance function of stroke patients.

Results

Six studies were chosen to perform the meta-analysis according to the inclusion and exclusion criteria. There were significant improvements of balance on Berg Balance Scale score (MD=4.823, 95% CI: 2.138–7.508), the standing balance with fall rates (RR=0.300, 95%CI: 0.120–0.770), functional reach test and dynamic gait index in Tai Chi intervention group compared to the control intervention group. However, the short physical performance battery for balance (SPBB) showed Tai Chi did not significantly improve the ability of balance for stroke patients (MD=0.293, 95%CI: −0.099~0.685).

Conclusions

Tai Chi exercise might have a significant impact in improving balance efficiency by increasing BBS score and reducing fall rate.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6289026/

 

Improve Health with Qigong

Improve Health with Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The health benefits from Qigong and Tai Chi comes about both by supporting the body’s natural tendency to return to balance and equilibrium and also gently yet profoundly creating strength, flexibility and balance in the muscles and joints through gentle flowing movements.” – Denise Nagel

 

Qigong and Tai Chi have been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevity. Qigong and Tai Chi training are 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 Qigong 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 systemreduce inflammationincrease the number of cancer killing cells in the bloodstream and improve cardiovascular function.

 

Because Qigong 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 step back and review the research on the effects of Qigong training on health and well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “Beneficial Effects of Qigong Wuqinxi in the Improvement of Health Condition, Prevention, and Treatment of Chronic Diseases: Evidence from a Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6220394/ ), Guo and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effects of Qigong practice on physical and psychological health. They found 28 published research studies.

 

They report that the research finds that Qigong practice by healthy adults produces improvements in cognitive functions including concentration and attention, strengthens the immune system, improves body shape and size, physical function, and the cardiovascular system, improves mood and psychological well-being, improves lipid metabolism, slows physiological indicators of aging, and reduces inflammation. For clinical populations, they report that the research indicates that Qigong practice reduces depression, and improves osteoarthritis, including knee osteoarthritis, metabolic syndrome, and blood fat levels.

 

Conclusions from these very exciting findings must be tempered as the research methodologies were often weak. More tightly controlled studies are needed. Regardless, these findings suggest that Qigong practice produces improved physical and psychological health in both healthy adults and people with mental and physical diseases. These are a remarkable set of benefits from this simple practice and suggest the reason why it has continued to be practiced by large numbers of people for hundreds of years. Hence, this simple, inexpensive, convenient, safe, and fun practice may improve the participants ability to successfully conduct their lives, improving health and well-being.

 

So, improve health with Qigong.

 

“A compelling body of research emerges when Tai Chi studies and the growing body of Qigong studies are combined. The evidence suggests that a wide range of health benefits accrue in response to these meditative movement forms.” – Dr. Mercola

 

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

 

Guo, Y., Xu, M., Wei, Z., Hu, Q., Chen, Y., Yan, J., & Wei, Y. (2018). Beneficial Effects of Qigong Wuqinxi in the Improvement of Health Condition, Prevention, and Treatment of Chronic Diseases: Evidence from a Systematic Review. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2018, 3235950. doi:10.1155/2018/3235950

 

Abstract

Purpose

Qigong is a modality of traditional Chinese mind-body medicine that has been used to prevent and cure ailments, to improve health in China for thousands of years. Wuqinxi, a Chinese traditional Qigong that focuses on mind-body integration, is thought to be an effective exercise in promoting physical and mental wellbeing. Thus, we summarized the evidence and aim to unravel effects of Wuqinxi on health outcomes.

Methods

We performed a systematic review of Wuqinxi studies published in English or Chinese since 1979. Relevant English and Chinese language electronic data bases were used for literature search. The selection of studies, data extraction, and validation were performed independently by two reviewers.

Results

A total of 28 eligible studies were included in this review, among which three are 3 in English and 25 in Chinese. The studies included in this review involve three different experimental designs: (1) 16 RCTs; (2) 2 historical cohort studies; and (3) 10 pretest and posttest studies (PPS). Participants in this review are categorized as either healthy or clinical populations. The results from this systematic review support the notion that Wuqinxi may be effective as an adjunctive rehabilitation method for improving psychological and physiological wellbeing among different age of healthy populations in addition to alleviating and treating diseases among various clinical populations.

Conclusion

The results indicated that Wuqinxi has been thought to be beneficial to improve health and treat chronic diseases. However, the methodological problems in the majority of included studies make it difficult to draw firm conclusive statements. More methodologically rigorous designed large-scale RCTs with a long-term follow-up assessment should be further conducted to examine the effects of Wuqixi on health-related parameters and disease-specific measures in different health conditions. This systematic review lends insight for future studies on Wuqinxi and its potential application in preventive and rehabilitation medicine.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6220394/