Slow Mental Decline in the Elderly with Tai Chi

Slow Mental Decline in the Elderly with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“improvement of heart function combined with increased muscular power meant that the martial art should be considered the preferred technique for elderly people to maintain good health.” – The Telegraph

 

We celebrate the increasing longevity of the population. But, aging is a mixed blessing. The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline of the body and the brain. Every system in the body deteriorates including cognitive function (thinking ability) and motor function with a decline in strength, flexibility, and balance. It is inevitable. In addition, many elderly experience withdrawal and isolation from social interactions. There is some hope as there is evidence that these declines can be slowed. For example, a healthy diet and a regular program of exercise can slow the physical and cognitive decline of the body with aging. Also, 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.

 

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 and found to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. Tai Chi has been shown to help the elderly improve attentionbalance, reducing fallsarthritiscognitive functionmemory, and reduce age related deterioration of the brain. 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.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi Improves Cognition and Plasma BDNF in Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Randomized Controlled Trial.”  Sungkarat and colleagues recruited elderly participants with mild cognitive impairments and randomly assigned them to either receive educational instruction related to cognitive impairment and fall prevention or practice Tai Chi at home guided by a 50-minute video, 3 times per week, for 6 months. They were measured at the beginning and end of training for cognitive performance, including memory, visuospatial ability, and executive function, and plasma markers for inflammation and neuroprotection, including plasma BDNF, TNF-α, and IL-10 levels.

 

They found that compared to baseline and control participants, the elderly who practiced Tai Chi had significantly improved levels of cognitive function, including improvements in memory and thinking ability (executive function). In addition, Tai Chi practice was found to significantly increase the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a neurotrophic factor that works to protect the brain from deterioration and promote the growth of brain cells. Hence, they found that Tai Chi practice reduces cognitive decline with aging and increases neuroprotection.

 

The cognitive decline with aging has been associated with degeneration of neural tissues. On the other hand, mindfulness practices have been found to change the brain and protect it against age related decline. The present results add further evidence that mindfulness practices, Tai Chi  in particular, improves memory and cognitive performance and promotes neuroprotection in the elderly. The attractiveness of the low intensity, low cost, convenient, and socially fun nature of Tai Chi practice makes it a great treatment for the prevention of age related decline.

 

So, slow mental decline in the elderly with Tai Chi.

 

“Scientists . . . found increases in brain volume and improvements on tests of memory and thinking in Chinese seniors who practiced Tai Chi three times a week.” – Science Daily

 

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

 

Somporn Sungkarat, PhD, SirinunBoripuntakul, PhD, Sirinart Kumfu, PhD, Stephen R. Lord, PhD, Nipon Chattipakorn, MD, PhD. Tai Chi Improves Cognition and Plasma BDNF in Older Adults With Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair. First Published January 20, 2018, https://doi-org.ezproxy.shsu.edu/10.1177/15459683177536

 

Abstract

Background. Effects of Tai Chi (TC) on specific cognitive function and mechanisms by which TC may improve cognition in older adults with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (a-MCI) remain unknown. Objective. To examine the effects of TC on cognitive functions and plasma biomarkers (brain-derived neurotrophic factor [BDNF], tumor necrosis factor-α [TNF-α], and interleukin-10 [IL-10]) in a-MCI. Methods. A total of 66 older adults with a-MCI (mean age = 67.9 years) were randomized to either a TC (n = 33) or a control group (n = 33). Participants in the TC group learned TC with a certified instructor and then practiced at home for 50 min/session, 3 times/wk for 6 months. The control group received educational material that covered information related to cognition. The primary outcome was cognitive performance, including Logical Memory (LM) delayed recall, Block Design, Digit Span, and Trail Making Test B minus A (TMT B-A). The secondary outcomes were plasma biomarkers, including BDNF, TNF-α, and IL-10. Results. At the end of the trial, performance on the LM and TMT B-A was significantly better in the TC group compared with the control group after adjusting for age, gender, and education (P < .05). Plasma BDNF level was significantly increased for the TC group, whereas the other outcome measures were similar between the 2 groups after adjusting for age and gender (P < .05). Conclusions. TC training significantly improved memory and the mental switching component of executive function in older adults with a-MCI, possibly via an upregulation of BDNF.

http://journals.sagepub.com.ezproxy.shsu.edu/doi/full/10.1177/1545968317753682

Improve Cardiorespiratory Fitness with Tai Chi

Improve Cardiorespiratory Fitness with Tai Chi

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“practicing Tai Chi Chuan regularly may delay the decline of cardiorespiratory function in older individuals. In addition, TCC may be prescribed as a suitable aerobic exercise for older adults.” – J.S. Lai

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack.” (Centers for Disease Control). A myriad of treatments has been developed for heart disease including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. In addition, lifestyle changes have proved to be effective including quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses. Cardiac rehabilitation programs for patients recovering from a heart attack, emphasize these lifestyle changes. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, 60% of cardiac patients decline participation, making these patients at high risk for another attack.

 

Contemplative practices, such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. In addition, mindfulness practices have also been shown to be helpful for producing the kinds of other lifestyle changes needed such as smoking cessationweight reduction and stress reduction.  Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient mindfulness practices involving slow prescribed movements. They are gentle and completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned. In addition, they can also be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. Since Tai Chi is both a mindfulness practice and an exercise, it may be an acceptable and effective treatment for cardiac patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Tai Chi on Cardiorespiratory Fitness for Coronary Disease Rehabilitation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5758591/ ), Yang and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of 5 published studies involving the application of Tai Chi practice for cardiac patients. Two studies were randomized controlled trials while 2 did not have a comparison (control) condition.

 

They report that the published studies found that Tai Chi practice produced significant improvement in the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood (VO2max) and was superior to light or moderate exercise but not different from intense exercise. Tai Chi practice also produced a significant improvement in peak heart rate in comparison to baseline and no exercise, but was inferior to intense exercise in this regard. Hence, there is evidence that Tai Chi practice can be of benefit to cardiac patients improving cardiorespiratory function.

 

The studies reviewed tended to have small samples or had week or nonexistent control conditions. So, conclusions must be tempered. The present summary, however, suggest that larger randomized controlled trials are justified. Tai Chi was not found to be as beneficial as intense exercise. But, intense exercise may be dangerous for cardiac patients. The attractiveness of the low intensity, low cost, convenient, and socially fun nature of Tai Chi practice makes it a good choice for cardiac patients.

 

So, improve cardiorespiratory fitness with Tai Chi.

 

“The slow and gentle movements of Tai Chi hold promise as an alternative exercise option for patients who decline traditional cardiac rehabilitation.” – Science Daily

 

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

 

Yang YL, Wang YH, Wang SR, Shi PS, Wang C. The Effect of Tai Chi on Cardiorespiratory Fitness for Coronary Disease Rehabilitation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Front Physiol. 2018 Jan 4;8:1091. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2017.01091. eCollection 2017.

 

Abstract

Background: Tai Chi that originated in China as a martial art is an aerobic exercise with low-to-moderate intensity and may play a role in cardiac rehabilitation. Aim: To systematically review the effect of Tai Chi on cardiorespiratory fitness for coronary disease rehabilitation. Methods: We performed a search for Chinese and English studies in the following databases: PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Chinese Biomedical Literature Database, China Knowledge Resource Integrated Database, Wanfang Data, and China Science and Technology Journal Database. The search strategy included terms relating to or describing Tai Chi and coronary disease, and there were no exclusion criteria for other types of diseases or disorders. Further, bibliographies of the related published systematic reviews were also reviewed. The searches, data extraction, and risk of bias (ROB) assessments were conducted by two independent investigators. Differences were resolved by consensus. RevMan 5.3.0 was used to analyze the study results. We used quantitative synthesis if the included studies were sufficiently homogeneous and performed subgroup analyses for studies with different control groups. To minimize bias in our findings, we used GRADEpro to grade the available evidence. Results: Five studies were enrolled-two randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and three nonrandomized controlled trials (N-RCTs)-that included 291 patients. All patients had coronary disease. ROB assessments showed a relatively high selection and detection bias. Meta-analyses showed that compared to other types of low- or moderate-intensity exercise, Tai Chi could significantly improve VO2max [MD = 4.71, 95% CI (3.58, 5.84), P < 0.00001], but it seemed less effective at improving VO2max as compared to high-intensity exercise. This difference, however, was not statistically significant [MD = -1.10, 95% CI (-2.46, 0.26), P = 0.11]. The GRADEpro showed a low level of the available evidence. Conclusion: Compared to no exercise or other types of exercise with low-to-moderate intensity, Tai Chi seems a good choice for coronary disease rehabilitation in improving cardiorespiratory fitness. However, owing to the poor methodology quality, more clinical trials with large sample size, strict randomization, and clear description about detection and reporting processes are needed to further verify the evidence.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5758591/

Improve Activity and Quality of Life in High Risk Cardiac Patients with Tai Chi

Improve Activity and Quality of Life in High Risk Cardiac Patients with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“We thought that Tai Chi might be a good option for these people because you can start very slowly and simply and, as their confidence increases, the pace and movements can be modified to increase intensity.” – Elena Salmoirago-Blotcher

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack.” (Centers for Disease Control). A myriad of treatments has been developed for heart disease including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. In addition, lifestyle changes have proved to be effective including quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses. Cardiac rehabilitation programs for patients recovering from a heart attack, emphasize these lifestyle changes. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, 60% of cardiac patients decline participation, making these patients at high risk for another attack.

 

Contemplative practices, such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. In addition, mindfulness practices have also been shown to be helpful for producing the kinds of other lifestyle changes needed such as smoking cessation, weight reduction and stress reductionTai Chi and Qigong are ancient mindfulness practices involving slow prescribed movements. They are gentle and completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned. In addition, they can also be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. Since Tai Chi is both a mindfulness practice and an exercise, it may be an acceptable and effective treatment for the 60% of cardiac patients who refuse participation in more traditional cardiac rehabilitation programs.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi Is a Promising Exercise Option for Patients with Coronary Heart Disease Declining Cardiac Rehabilitation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5721863/ ), Salmoirago‐Blotcher and colleagues recruited cardiac patients who were physically inactive and offered them participation in group Tai Chi practices for 30 minutes per session. The participants were randomly assigned to one of two levels of practice, Lite and Plus. In the Lite condition practice occurred 2 times per week for 12 weeks. In the Plus condition practice occurred 3 times per week for 12 weeks followed by 4 weeks of twice a week practices and 8 weeks of once a week practice. Patients were measured before treatment and at 3, 6, and 9 months later. They were measured for acceptability and participation rates in the clinic and at home. They were also measured for physical activity and aerobic fitness with stress test, body size, anxiety, and depression.

 

Retention rates in the program were excellent with 90% of the Lite group and 84% of the Plus group still participating at the 9-month follow-up. There were no cardiac related adverse events during the study and most participants indicated that the program was acceptable and enjoyable. The Plus condition resulted in significant increases in the patients’ levels of physical activity and self-reported quality of life and decreases in body weight, but not improvement in aerobic fitness. Hence, the 6-month Plus Tai Chi program was safe and acceptable and produced measurable improvements in the patients activity levels and quality of life.

 

The high acceptability and retention rates are particularly important as these patients had declined participation in more traditional cardiac rehabilitation programs. They stated that they feared that the traditional programs would be too stressful and potentially harmful. But, Tai Ch practice was perceived as acceptable and not dangerous. Hence, the program was successful in getting these reluctant patients more physically active. The hope is that this would overcome their reluctance to engage in more strenuous programs and eventually lead to participation and improvement in aerobic fitness levels. This would be a breakthrough in the treatment of these very high-risk patients.

 

So, improve activity and quality of life in high risk cardiac patients with Tai Chi.

 

Tai chi may be a useful form of exercise for cardiac rehab programs, as it’s safe for high-risk patients. Findings also suggest that tai chi alone may be beneficial for patients who are unwilling to participate in a rehab program.” – CardioSmart

 

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

 

Elena Salmoirago‐Blotcher, Peter M. Wayne, Shira Dunsiger, Julie Krol, Christopher Breault, Beth C. Bock, Wen‐Chih Wu, Gloria Y. Yeh, Tai Chi Is a Promising Exercise Option for Patients With Coronary Heart Disease Declining Cardiac Rehabilitation. J Am Heart Assoc. 2017 Oct; 6(10): e006603. Published online 2017 Oct 11. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.117.006603

 

Clinical Perspective

What Is New?

Compared with a shorter intervention, a 6‐month tai chi exercise intervention was safe, feasible, and enjoyable and increased moderate‐to‐vigorous physical activity among deconditioned patients with coronary heart disease who had declined enrollment in cardiac rehabilitation.

Other benefits included weight loss and improvements in quality of life.

This is the first study showing that tai chi may improve exercise behaviors in this high‐risk population.

What Are the Clinical Implications?

Tai chi is a promising and safe exercise alternative for patients with coronary heart disease who are unable or unwilling to attend traditional cardiac rehabilitation.

If proved effective in larger studies, tai chi could be offered as an alternative exercise option within existing cardiac rehabilitation programs or within the context of community‐based rehabilitation programs.

Abstract

Background

More than 60% of patients decline participation in cardiac rehabilitation after a myocardial infarction. Options to improve physical activity (PA) and other risk factors in these high‐risk individuals are limited. We conducted a phase 2 randomized controlled trial to determine feasibility, safety, acceptability, and estimates of effect of tai chi on PA, fitness, weight, and quality of life.

Methods and Results

Patients with coronary heart disease declining cardiac rehabilitation enrollment were randomized to a “LITE” (2 sessions/week for 12 weeks) or to a “PLUS” (3 sessions/week for 12 weeks, then maintenance classes for 12 additional weeks) condition. PA (accelerometry), weight, and quality of life (Health Survey Short Form) were measured at baseline and 3, 6, and 9 months after baseline; aerobic fitness (stress test) was measured at 3 months. Twenty‐nine participants (13 PLUS and 16 LITE) were enrolled. Retention at 9 months was 90% (LITE) and 88% (PLUS). No serious tai chi–related adverse events occurred. Significant mean between group differences in favor of the PLUS group were observed at 3 and 6 months for moderate‐to‐vigorous PA (100.33 min/week [95% confidence interval, 15.70–184.95 min/week] and 111.62 min/week; [95% confidence interval, 26.17–197.07 min/week], respectively, with a trend toward significance at 9 months), percentage change in weight, and quality of life. No changes in aerobic fitness were observed within and between groups.

Conclusions

In this community sample of patients with coronary heart disease declining enrollment in cardiac rehabilitation, a 6‐month tai chi program was safe and improved PA, weight, and quality of life compared with a 3‐month intervention. Tai chi could be an effective option to improve PA in this high‐risk population.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5721863/

Decrease Stroke Risk with Tai Chi or Qigong

Decrease Stroke Risk with Tai Chi or Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“One of the main issues that a stroke survivor experiences is a problem with balance. . .This is where tai chi can make a huge difference. With a complete focus on slow, controlled, and repetitive movements, tai chi is effective in improving one’s balance through dynamic motion and coordination”. Saebo

 

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. Strokes come in two varieties. The most common (87%) is ischemic stroke resulting from a blocked artery. But strokes can also occur due to leaking or rupture of a blood vessel in the brain, known as hemorrhagic stroke.

 

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. The ancient mindful movement technique Tai Chi is a very safe form of gentle exercise that appears to be beneficial for stroke victims.

 

In today’s Research News article “Efficacy of Tai Chi and qigong for the prevention of stroke and stroke risk factors: A systematic review with meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5690748/ ),

Lauche and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effects of Tai Chi or Qigong practice on risk factors for Stroke. They did not find any trials that reported actual incidence of stroke, but found 21 research controlled trials that reported on risk factors for stroke, including hypertension, hyperlipidaemia, diabetes, overweight or obesity, or metabolic syndrome.

 

They found that the published research reported that Tai Chi or Qigong practice produced significant improvement in hypertension including reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The studies also reported significant improvements in hyperlipidaemia, including lower levels of triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol, and higher levels of HDL cholesterol and in diabetes including fasting blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity. Tai Chi or Qigong practice was also found to improve the body weight index in overweight and obese individuals. No adverse events were reported in any of the trials.

 

These results are remarkable in the breadth and extent of the effects of Tai Chi or Qigong practice on risk factors for stroke. Although there were no direct measures of stroke incidence the reductions in risk factors would predict a reduction, over the long-term of the likelihood and incidence of stroke. Lauche and colleagues, however, caution that the trials tended to be of low quality with considerable risk of bias. Hence, conclusions need to be tempered and the results needs to be confirmed with more highly controlled trials.

 

The review found evidence that Tai Chi or Qigong practices are safe, with no negative effects or adverse reactions. In addition, they can be implemented to large numbers of individuals at relatively low cost, can be conveniently practiced at home or in a clinic, and can be practiced alone or in groups. Also, since the practice is gentle and safe it can be used with frail, sickly or elderly individuals. Hence, Tai Chi or Qigong practice appears to be an excellent treatment for the reduction of the risk for stroke in vulnerable individuals.

 

So, decrease stroke risk with Tai Chi or Qigong.

 

“The main physical benefits of Tai Chi are better balance, improved strength, flexibility and aerobic endurance. Psycho-social benefits include less depression, anxiety and stress, and better quality of life.” – Ruth E. 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

 

Lauche, R., Peng, W., Ferguson, C., Cramer, H., Frawley, J., Adams, J., & Sibbritt, D. (2017). Efficacy of Tai Chi and qigong for the prevention of stroke and stroke risk factors: A systematic review with meta-analysis. Medicine, 96(45), e8517. http://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000008517

 

Abstract

Background:

This review aims to summarize the evidence of Tai Chi and qigong interventions for the primary prevention of stroke, including the effects on populations with major stroke risk factors.

Methods:

A systematic literature search was conducted on January 16, 2017 using the PubMed, Scopus, Cochrane Library, and CINAHL databases. Randomized controlled trials examining the efficacy of Tai Chi or qigong for stroke prevention and stroke risk factors were included. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool.

Results:

Twenty-one trials with n = 1604 patients with hypertension, hyperlipidaemia, diabetes, overweight or obesity, or metabolic syndrome were included. No trials were found that examined the effects of Tai Chi/qigong on stroke incidence. Meta-analyses revealed significant, but not robust, benefits of Tai Chi/qigong over no interventions for hypertension (systolic blood pressure: −15.55 mm Hg (95% CI: −21.16; −9.95); diastolic blood pressure: −10.66 mm Hg (95% CI: −14.90, −6.43); the homeostatic model assessment (HOMA) index (−2.86%; 95% CI: −5.35, −0.38) and fasting blood glucose (−9.6 mg/dL; 95% CI: −17.28, −1.91), and for the body mass index compared with exercise controls (−1.65 kg/m2; 95% CI: −3.11, −0.20). Risk of bias was unclear or high for the majority of trials and domains, and heterogeneity between trials was high. Only 6 trials adequately reported safety. No recommendation for the use of Tai Chi/qigong for the prevention of stroke can be given.

Conclusion:

Although Tai Chi and qigong show some potential more robust studies are required to provide conclusive evidence on the efficacy and safety of Tai Chi and qigong for reducing major stroke risk factors.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5690748/

Improve Memory and Frontal Lobe Function in Older Adults with Mind-Body Practices

Improve Memory and Frontal Lobe Function in Older Adults with Mind-Body Practices

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Scientists . . . found increases in brain volume and improvements on tests of memory and thinking in Chinese seniors who practiced Tai Chi three times a week.” – Science Daily

 

The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity.  Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread area. and have found that meditation practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits.

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. Starting in the 20s there is a progressive decrease in the volume and activity of the brain as the years go by. Researchers 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, yoga and Tai Chi have all been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners. A practice, similar to Tai Chi, Baduanjin is a mind-body training consisted of 8 movements for limbs, body-trunk, and eye movements. But it has not been evaluated for application to aging individuals.

Because Tai Chi and Baduanjin are not strenuous, involving slow gentle movements, and are safe, having no appreciable side effects, they are appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin Mind-Body Training Changes Resting-State Low-Frequency Fluctuations in the Frontal Lobe of Older Adults: A Resting-State fMRI Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5670503/ ), Tao and colleagues recruited older sedentary adults (50 to 70 years of age) and randomly assigned them to either a no-treatment control who were provided health information or to practice either Tai Chi or Baduanjin mind-body training for 12 weeks, one hour per day, five days per week. Participants were measured before and after training for memory and cognitive functions. They also underwent functional-Magnetic Resonance Imaging (f-MRI).

 

They found that the Tai Chi and Baduanjin groups did not differ, but, in comparison to baseline and the education control group they had significant (18%-24%) increases in memory performance after training. The brain scans demonstrated that, in comparison to the education control group the Baduanjin group had significant increases in activity in the low frequency range in the Medial Prefrontal Cortex while the Tai Chi group had significant increases in activity in the low frequency range in the Dorsal Lateral Prefrontal Cortex. Importantly, they found that the greater the increase in activity in the Prefrontal Areas the greater the improvement in memory.

 

Hence, the results showed that both mind-body practices of Tai Chi and Baduanjin improved memory in older adults in association with increases in Prefrontal Lobe activity. The Prefrontal cortex has been associated previously with memory, attention, and high-level thinking (executive function). The present results suggest that the mind-body practices of Tai Chi and Baduanjin act to improve memory in older adults by producing neuroplastic changes that increase activity in the brain’s Prefrontal Areas. Interestingly, the results also show that the two mind-body practices may act on different mechanisms in the brain; with Tai Chi acting on the medial areas of the Prefrontal Cortex while Baduanjin acting on the Dorsal Lateral areas.

 

Memory deteriorates with aging and this can progress to severe memory impairments and dementia. The results of this study suggest that engagement in the mind-body practices of Tai Chi and Baduanjin may be able to slow or prevent that decline by strengthening brain processing in the Prefrontal Cortex. Since both Tai Chi and Baduanjin are simple and safe exercises that can be easily learned and practiced at home alone or in groups, they are economical and scalable practices to improve memory during aging. As such, they should be recommended for older adults.

 

So, improve memory and frontal lobe function in older adults with mind-body practices.

 

“Because Tai Chi can be done indoors or out, and as a group activity or by yourself, it suits both people who like to work out alone at home and those who prefer to get their exercise in a social setting.” – Mark Huntsman

 

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

 

Tao, J., Chen, X., Liu, J., Egorova, N., Xue, X., Liu, W., … Kong, J. (2017). Tai Chi Chuan and Baduanjin Mind-Body Training Changes Resting-State Low-Frequency Fluctuations in the Frontal Lobe of Older Adults: A Resting-State fMRI Study. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11, 514. http://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2017.00514

 

Abstract

Age-related cognitive decline is a significant public health concern. Recently, non-pharmacological methods, such as physical activity and mental training practices, have emerged as promising low-cost methods to slow the progression of age-related memory decline. In this study, we investigated if Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) and Baduanjin modulated the fractional amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations (fALFF) in different frequency bands (low-frequency: 0.01–0.08 Hz; slow-5: 0.01–0.027 Hz; slow-4: 0.027–0.073 Hz) and improved memory function. Older adults were recruited for the randomized study. Participants in the TCC and Baduanjin groups received 12 weeks of training (1 h/day for 5 days/week). Participants in the control group received basic health education. Each subject participated in memory tests and fMRI scans at the beginning and end of the experiment. We found that compared to the control group: (1) TCC and Baduanjin groups demonstrated significant improvements in memory function; (2) TCC increased fALFF in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) in the slow-5 and low-frequency bands; and (3) Baduanjin increased fALFF in the medial PFC in the slow-5 and low-frequency bands. This increase was positively associated with memory function improvement in the slow-5 and low-frequency bands across the TCC and Baduanjin groups. Our results suggest that TCC and Baduanjin may work through different brain mechanisms to prevent memory decline due to aging.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5670503/

Improve Thinking in Older Adults with Tai Chi

Improve Thinking in Older Adults with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“It may be no surprise that Tai Chi has physical benefits – after all, it involves movement. Well, did you know that Tai Chi may also have mental benefits? Specifically, . . . significant increases in the brain size, memory and thinking of older adults who practiced Tai Chi compared to other groups in the study.” – Tai Chi for Health

 

We celebrate the increasing longevity of the population. But, aging is a mixed blessing. The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline of the body and the brain. Every system in the body deteriorates including cognitive function (thinking ability) and motor function with a decline in strength, flexibility, and balance. It is inevitable. In addition, many elderly experience withdrawal and isolation from social interactions. There is some hope as there is evidence that these declines can be slowed. For example, a healthy diet and a regular program of exercise can slow the physical and cognitive decline of the body with aging. Also, 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.

 

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. But, it has been found to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. Tai Chi has been shown to help the elderly improve attentionbalance, reducing fallsarthritiscognitive functionmemory, and reduce age related deterioration of the brain. 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.

 

In today’s Research News article “The benefits of Tai Chi and brisk walking for cognitive function and fitness in older adults.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5652256/ ), Ji and colleagues recruited health adults aged 60 to 72 years. Participants who engaged in Tai Chi, brisk walking, or no exercise were compared on cognitive performance. They were measured with the Stroop test where names of colors were presented in colors different from the word, e.g. the word RED appears in a blue color. The participants are asked to report the word (naming) or the color of the word ignoring the meaning of the word itself (inhibition) or switch back and forth (Executive function). They were also measured with a digit comparison task in which they were presented with two numbers and asked to identify which was larger. The numbers were presented either simultaneously (non-delay) or delayed by 1.5 seconds (delay).

 

They found that both the Tai Chi and brisk walking groups were superior on the tasks than the control group. But, the Tai Chi group responded faster on the Stroop naming and executive conditions and were more accurate on the inhibition condition than the brisk walking group. In addition, the Tai Chi group responded faster than the brisk walking group on the delayed digit comparison condition. This suggests that the both Tai Chi and brisk walking participation improves cognitive performance in older adults but that Tai Chi dose so better than brisk walking.

 

The interpretation of the results needs to be qualified as there was no active manipulations of the activity conditions. Older adults who already participated in these activities were simply compared. Hence, it is impossible to conclude causation. It is conceivable that people who chose to participate in Tai Chi may be different people with better cognitive ability than people who chose brisk walking. The observed differences, then, may be due to the typ of people whoe chose an activity rather than the effects of the activity.

 

But, taken at face value the results suggest the Tai Chi, which places greater cognitive demands on the practitioner than brisk walking, has greater cognitive benefits. Given the progressive inevitable decline with aging in cognitive ability, methods that can slow or delay the decline are valuable. Tai Chi would appear to be an almost ideal method to improve fitness and balance, reducing falls, in the elderly and improve cognitive performance.

 

So, improve thinking in older adults with tai chi.

 

“Epidemiologic studies have shown repeatedly that individuals who engage in more physical exercise or are more socially active have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The current findings suggest that this may be a result of growth and preservation of critical regions of the brain affected by this illness.” – James Mortimer

 

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

 

Ji, Z., Li, A., Feng, T., Liu, X., You, Y., Meng, F., … Zhang, C. (2017).. PeerJ, 5, e3943. http://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.3943

 

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the benefits of exercises with different cognitive demands for cognitive functions (Executive and non-Executive) in healthy older adults. A cross-sectional design was adopted. In total, 84 healthy older adults were enrolled in the study. They were categorized into the Tai Chi group (TG), the brisk walking group (BG) or the control group (CG). Each participant performed the Stroop task and a digit comparison task. The Stroop task included the following three conditions: a naming condition, an inhibition condition and an executive condition. There were two experimental conditions in the digit comparison task: the non-delay condition and the delay condition. The results indicated that participants of the TG and BG revealed significant better performance than the CG in the executive condition of cognitive tasks and fitness. There was no significant difference of reaction time (RT) and accuracy rate in the inhibition and delay conditions of cognitive tasks and fitness between the TG and BG. The TG showed shorter reaction time in the naming and the executive conditions, and more accurate in the inhibition conditions than the BG. These findings demonstrated that regular participation in brisk walking and Tai Chi have significant beneficial effects on executive function and fitness. However, due to the high cognitive demands of the exercise, Tai Chi benefit cognitive functions (Executive and non-Executive) in older adults more than brisk walking does. Further studies should research the underlying mechanisms at the behavioural and neuroelectric levels, providing more evidence to explain the effect of high-cognitive demands exercise on different processing levels of cognition.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5652256/

Improve Type 2 Diabetes with Qigong Practice

Improve Type 2 Diabetes with Qigong Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“In addition to the importance of moderate physical activity, the relaxation element of Tai Chi may help to reduce stress levels, preventing the release of adrenalin which can lead to insulin resistance and high blood glucose levels.”  – Cathy Moulton

 

Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Type 2 Diabetes results from a resistance of tissues, especially fat tissues, to the ability of insulin to promote the uptake of glucose from the blood. As a result, blood sugar levels rise producing hyperglycemia. Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. In addition, diabetes is heavily associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and circulatory problems leading to amputations. As a result, diabetes doubles the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes.

 

Type 2 diabetes is a common and increasingly prevalent illness that is largely preventable. One of the reasons for the increasing incidence of Type 2 Diabetes is its association with overweight and obesity which is becoming epidemic in the industrialized world. Qigong and Tai Chi have been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevityQigong and Tai Chi trainings are designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through controlled breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. Only recently though have the effects of these practices been scrutinized with empirical research. This research has found that they are effective for an array of physical and psychological issues.

 

Diet and exercise are prescribed to treat Type 2 Diabetes. Qigong and Tai Chi are gentle exercises that may be acceptable to the generally exercise averse obese. So, they may be useful in treating Type 2 Diabetes. In today’s Research News article “Qigong Exercises for the Management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5622394/), Putiri and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the application of Qigong practice for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes.

 

They report that the published research literature finds that Qigong practice produces significant improvements in blood glucose, triglycerides, total cholesterol, weight, BMI and insulin resistance in patients with Type 2 Diabetes. It is known that exercise and weight reduction improves Type 2 Diabetes. In addition, stress tends to exacerbate the disorder. So, Putiri and colleagues speculate that the benefits of Qigong for Type 2 Diabetes are due to the aerobic exercise, weight loss, and stress reduction provided by the practice.

 

These are exciting findings. Qigong is a gentle practice, completely safe, can be used by anyone, including the elderly and sickly, is inexpensive to administer, is convenient as it can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can also be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. This suggests that Qigong practice may be an ideal alternative treatment for Type 2 Diabetes.

 

So, improve Type 2 Diabetes with qigong practice.

 

“Qigong is brilliant but it is not a miracle worker. It is merely a tool to maintaining good health and to prevent and improve your health; HOWEVER you may need to improve other aspects of your life such as increasing exercise (where Qigong can help) and changing the diet (removing toxic additives and sugar / processed products).” – Udemy

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Putiri, A. L., Close, J. R., Lilly, H. R., Guillaume, N., & Sun, G.-C. (2017). Qigong Exercises for the Management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Medicines, 4(3), 59. http://doi.org/10.3390/medicines4030059

 

Abstract

Background: The purpose of this article is to clarify and define medical qigong and to identify an appropriate study design and methodology for a large-scale study looking at the effects of qigong in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), specifically subject enrollment criteria, selection of the control group and study duration. Methods: A comprehensive literature review of English databases was used to locate articles from 1980–May 2017 involving qigong and T2DM. Control groups, subject criteria and the results of major diabetic markers were reviewed and compared within each study. Definitions of qigong and its differentiation from physical exercise were also considered. Results: After a thorough review, it was found that qigong shows positive effects on T2DM; however, there were inconsistencies in control groups, research subjects and diabetic markers analyzed. It was also discovered that there is a large variation in styles and definitions of qigong. Conclusions: Qigong exercise has shown promising results in clinical experience and in randomized, controlled pilot studies for affecting aspects of T2DM including blood glucose, triglycerides, total cholesterol, weight, BMI and insulin resistance. Due to the inconsistencies in study design and methods and the lack of large-scale studies, further well-designed randomized control trials (RCT) are needed to evaluate the ‘vital energy’ or qi aspect of internal medical qigong in people who have been diagnosed with T2DM.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5622394/

Improve Sleep with Tai Chi

Improve Sleep with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Tai chi, a lifestyle intervention that targets stress that can lead to insomnia, was also found to reduce inflammation, and did so by reducing the expression of inflammation at the cellular level and by reversing activation of inflammatory signaling pathways.” – Science Daily

 

It is estimated that over half of Americans sleep too little due to stress. As a result, people today sleep 20% less than they did 100 years ago. Not having a good night’s sleep has adverse effects upon the individual’s health, well-being, and happiness. Yet over 70 million Americans suffer from disorders of sleep and about half of these have a chronic disorder. It has been estimated that about 4% of Americans revert to sleeping pills. But, these do not always produce high quality sleep and can have problematic side effects. So, there is a need to find better methods to improve sleep. Mindfulness-based practices have been reported to improve sleep amount and quality. In addition, exercise has been shown to improve sleep.

 

Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient mindfulness practices involving slow prescribed movements. They are gentle and completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can also be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. Since Tai Chi and Qigong are both mindfulness practices and exercises, they may be effective treatments to improve sleep.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi Improves Sleep Quality in Healthy Adults and Patients with Chronic Conditions: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5570448/, Raman and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the ability of Tai Chi practice to improve sleep quality. They found 11 published studies, 9 of which were randomized controlled trials.

 

They reported that the research demonstrated that Tai Chi practice significantly improves both self-report and objective measures of sleep quality in a variety of people with and without illness. The improvements included decreases in the time to go to sleep and the use of sleeping pills and increases in sleep duration. No significant negative side effects were reported. Hence, Tai Chi practice appears to be a safe and effective treatment to improve sleep in both well and sickly people.

 

These are exciting and important findings that support the use of Tai Chi practice for the improvement in sleep. The mechanism by which Tai Chi practice produces sleep improvement is not known. The ability of mindfulness practices to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress may remove this obstacle to a good night’s sleep and thereby improve sleep. Regardless, it is clear that Tai Chi practice may be a solution to the chronic sleep problems experienced by many.

 

So, improve sleep with Tai Chi.

 

“The practice of Chi Gong can be used as a spiritual aid to help connect with a higher power, which can provide comfort and peace for those having difficulty sleeping. Even for individuals who are not spiritual, the mental, emotional and physical benefits are worth the effort in order to obtain restful sleep.” – Sifu Romain

 

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

 

Raman, G., Zhang, Y., Minichiello, V. J., D’Ambrosio, C. M., & Wang, C. (2013). Tai Chi Improves Sleep Quality in Healthy Adults and Patients with Chronic Conditions: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Journal of Sleep Disorders & Therapy, 2(6), 141. http://doi.org/10.4172/2167-0277.1000141

 

Abstract

Background

Physical activity and exercise appear to improve sleep quality. However, the quantitative effects of Tai Chi on sleep quality in the adult population have rarely been examined. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis evaluating the effects of Tai Chi on sleep quality in healthy adults and disease populations.

Methods

Medline, Cochrane Central databases, and review of references were searched through July 31, 2013. English-language studies of all designs evaluating Tai Chi’s effect on sleep outcomes in adults were examined. Data were extracted and verified by 2 reviewers. Extracted information included study setting and design, population characteristics, type and duration of interventions, outcomes, risk of bias and main results. Random effect models meta-analysis was used to assess the magnitude of treatment effect when at least 3 trials reported on the same sleep outcomes.

Results

Eleven studies (9 randomized and 2 non-randomized trials) totaling 994 subjects published between 2004 and 2012 were identified. All studies except one reported Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index. Nine randomized trials reported that 1.5 to 3 hour each week for a duration of 6 to 24 weeks of Tai Chi significantly improved sleep quality (Effect Size, 0.89; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.28 to 1.50), in community-dwelling healthy participants and in patients with chronic conditions. Improvement in health outcomes including physical performance, pain reduction, and psychological well-being occurred in the Tai Chi group compared with various controls.

Limitations

Studies were heterogeneous and some trials were lacking in methodological rigor.

Conclusions

Tai Chi significantly improved sleep quality in both healthy adults and patients with chronic health conditions, which suggests that Tai Chi may be considered as an alternative behavioral therapy in the treatment of insomnia. High-quality, well-controlled randomized trials are needed to better inform clinical decisions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5570448/

Improve Fibromyalgia with Qigong Practice

Improve Fibromyalgia with Qigong Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“the mindful, meditative state that you reach through qigong releases neurochemical and immunological messengers that improve healing and reduce pain.” – Mary Lynch

 

Fibromyalgia is a mysterious disorder whose causes are unknown. It is very common affecting over 5 million people in the U.S., about 2% of the population with about 7 times more women affected than men. It is characterized by widespread pain, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbance, and fatigue that lead to psychological distress. Fibromyalgia may also have morning stiffness, tingling or numbness in hands and feet, headaches, including migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, sleep disturbances, thinking and memory problems, and painful menstrual periods. The symptoms are so severe and debilitating that about half the patients are unable to perform routine daily functions and about a third have to stop work. Although it is not itself fatal, suicide rates are higher in fibromyalgia sufferers.

 

Many studies have linked fibromyalgia with depression. In fact, people with fibromyalgia are up to three times more likely to be depressed at the time of their diagnosis than someone without fibromyalgia. In addition, the stress from pain and fatigue can cause anxiety and social isolation. As a result, many patients experience intense anger regarding their situation. The emotions are understandable, but can act to amplify the pain. Hence, there is a great need to develop safe and effective treatments for the torment of fibromyalgia.

 

Mindfulness practices have been shown to be effective in reducing pain from fibromyalgia. This may occur directly by reducing pain or indirectly by reducing emotions or both. In today’s Research News article “Qigong and Fibromyalgia circa 2017.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5590073/, Sawynok and Lynch review and summarize the published research literature on the use of Qigong practice for the treatment of fibromyalgia. They review 6 randomized controlled trials and 9 other less controlled studies.

 

They report that the research reflects consistent positive benefits of Qigong practice with medium-to-large effect sizes. These include significant reductions pain, and improvements in sleep, the impact of fibromyalgia on their ability to conduct their lives, physical well-being, and mental, cognitive, function. These benefits were manifest after 6–8 weeks of practice, and were sustained at 4–6 months. Hence, Qigong practice appears to be a safe and effective treatment for the physical and psychological symptoms of fibromyalgia.

 

Qigong is a gentle practice, completely safe, can be used by anyone, including the elderly and sickly, is inexpensive to administer, is convenient as it can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can also be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. Hence, Qigong appears to be an almost ideal treatment for fibromyalgia.

 

So, improve fibromyalgia with qigong practice.

 

“When our bodies are chronically uncomfortable we tend to disconnect from them. Qigong invites us to connect our breath, feelings and body sensations.” – Laurie Hope

 

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

 

Sawynok, J., & Lynch, M. E. (2017). Qigong and Fibromyalgia circa 2017. Medicines, 4(2), 37. http://doi.org/10.3390/medicines4020037

 

Abstract

Qigong is an internal art practice with a long history in China. It is currently characterized as meditative movement (or as movement-based embodied contemplative practice), but is also considered as complementary and alternative exercise or mind–body therapy. There are now six controlled trials and nine other reports on the effects of qigong in fibromyalgia. Outcomes are related to amount of practice so it is important to consider this factor in overview analyses. If one considers the 4 trials (201 subjects) that involve diligent practice (30–45 min daily, 6–8 weeks), there are consistent benefits in pain, sleep, impact, and physical and mental function following the regimen, with benefits maintained at 4–6 months. Effect sizes are consistently in the large range. There are also reports of even more extensive practice of qigong for 1–3 years, even up to a decade, indicating marked benefits in other health areas beyond core domains for fibromyalgia. While the latter reports involve a limited number of subjects and represent a self-selected population, the marked health benefits that occur are noteworthy. Qigong merits further study as a complementary practice for those with fibromyalgia. Current treatment guidelines do not consider amount of practice, and usually make indeterminate recommendations.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5590073/

Improve Fibromyalgia with Tai Chi

Improve Fibromyalgia with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Compared with patients who received wellness education and stretching exercises, those who practiced tai chi saw their fibromyalgia become much less severe. They also slept better, felt better, had less pain, had more energy, and had better physical and mental health.” – Chenchen Wang

 

Fibromyalgia is a mysterious disorder whose causes are unknown. It is very common affecting over 5 million people in the U.S., about 2% of the population with about 7 times more women affected than men. It is characterized by widespread pain, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbance, and fatigue that lead to psychological distress. Fibromyalgia may also have morning stiffness, tingling or numbness in hands and feet, headaches, including migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, sleep disturbances, thinking and memory problems, and painful menstrual periods. The symptoms are so severe and debilitating that about half the patients are unable to perform routine daily functions and about a third have to stop work. Although it is not itself fatal, suicide rates are higher in fibromyalgia sufferers.

 

There are no completely effective treatments for fibromyalgia. Drugs and lifestyle changes are recommended but produce only limited symptomatic relief but also can produce unwanted side effects. Alternatively, mindfulness practices have been shown to be effective in reducing pain from fibromyalgia. Tai Chi is an ancient mindfulness practice involving slow prescribed movements. It is gentle and completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can also be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. In addition, Tai Chi  has been shown to reduce pain in patients with spinal cord injury. Hence, Tai Chi may be an excellent treatment for the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

 

In today’s Research News article “A randomized controlled trial of 8-form Tai chi improves symptoms and functional mobility in fibromyalgia patients.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5571653/, Jones and colleagues recruited fibromyalgia sufferers and randomly assigned them to either practice Tai Chi or receive education on fibromyalgia from physicians, dieticians, and counselors for 90 minutes, twice a week, for 12 weeks. Homework and home practice was also prescribed. The participants were measured before and after the 12-week treatment period for fibromyalgia impact, including fatigue, morning tiredness, stiffness, depression, anxiety, work ability, and physical function

 

They found that the Tai Chi group in comparison to baseline and the education group had significant decreases in fibromyalgia impact, pain, sleep quality, self-efficacy, functional mobility, and balance. There were also significant reductions in pain, and improvements in sleep quality, self-efficacy, functional mobility, and balance. Importantly, none of the participants dropped out from the Tai Chi group. Hence, Tai Chi was found to be well tolerated and acceptable, and to produce clinically significant improvements in the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

 

Tai Chi can significantly improve the suffering from fibromyalgia while being acceptable for practice for patients in pain. It has no known negative side effects, is inexpensive and convenient to practice, and can be practiced alone or in groups. It appears to not only improve the psychological symptoms that can be produced by other mindfulness practices, but can also improve physical mobility including balance. Hence, Tai Chi would appear to be a nearly ideal treatment for fibromyalgia, either alone or in combination with other treatments.

 

So, improve fibromyalgia with Tai Chi.

 

“Aside from reductions in pain, patients in the tai chi group reported improvements in mood, quality of life, sleep, self-efficacy and exercise capacity. The potential efficacy and lack of adverse effects now make it reasonable for physicians to support patients’ interest in exploring these types of exercises, even if it is too early to take out a prescription pad and write ‘tai chi,’” – Gloria Yeh

 

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

 

Jones, K. D., Sherman, C. A., Mist, S. D., Carson, J. W., Bennett, R. M., & Li, F. (2012). A randomized controlled trial of 8-form Tai chi improves symptoms and functional mobility in fibromyalgia patients. Clinical Rheumatology, 31(8), 1205–1214. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10067-012-1996-2

 

Abstract

Previous researchers have found that 10-form Tai chi yields symptomatic benefit in patients with fibromyalgia (FM). The purpose of this study was to further investigate earlier findings and add a focus on functional mobility. We conducted a parallel-group randomized controlled trial FM-modified 8-form Yang-style Tai chi program compared to an education control. Participants met in small groups twice weekly for 90 min over 12 weeks. The primary endpoint was symptom reduction and improvement in self-report physical function, as measured by the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ), from baseline to 12 weeks. Secondary endpoints included pain severity and interference (Brief Pain Inventory (BPI), sleep (Pittsburg sleep Inventory), self-efficacy, and functional mobility. Of the 101 randomly assigned subjects (mean age 54 years, 93 % female), those in the Tai chi condition compared with the education condition demonstrated clinically and statistically significant improvements in FIQ scores (16.5 vs. 3.1, p=0.0002), BPI pain severity (1.2 vs. 0.4, p=0.0008), BPI pain interference (2.1 vs. 0.6, p=0.0000), sleep (2.0 vs. −0.03, p=0.0003), and self-efficacy for pain control (9.2 vs. −1.5, p=0.0001). Functional mobility variables including timed get up and go (−.9 vs. −.3, p=0.0001), static balance (7.5 vs. −0.3, p= 0.0001), and dynamic balance (1.6 vs. 0.3, p=0.0001) were significantly improved with Tai chi compared with education control. No adverse events were noted. Twelve weeks of Tai chi, practice twice weekly, provided worthwhile improvement in common FM symptoms including pain and physical function including mobility. Tai chi appears to be a safe and an acceptable exercise modality that may be useful as adjunctive therapy in the management of FM patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5571653/