Improve Inflammation and Depression with Mild Cognitive Impairment with Mindfulness

Improve Inflammation and Depression with Mild Cognitive Impairment with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“adults with mild cognitive impairment who practice mindfulness meditation could experience a boost in cognitive reserve.” – Monica Beyer

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. The elderly frequently have problems with attention, thinking, and memory, known as mild cognitive impairment. An encouraging new development is that mindfulness practices such as meditation training and mindful movement practices can significantly reduce these declines in cognitive ability. In addition, it has been found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue.

 

Intervening early in patients with mild cognitive impairment may be able to delay or even prevent full blown dementia. So, it is important to study the effectiveness of mindfulness training on older adults with mild cognitive impairment to improve their psychological and physical well-being and cognitive performance.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on Depression, Cognition, and Immunity in Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Pilot Feasibility Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7429186/ ) Marciniak and colleagues recruited older adults, over 55 years of age, who were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and randomly assigned them to receive 8 weekly 2.5-hour sessions of either Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or to cognitive training. Weekly training was accompanied by daily home practice. MBSR consisted in training of body scan, sitting meditation, mindful movement, working with difficulties, meditation with imagination, and discussion. Cognitive training focused on specific cognitive domains including memory, attention, and logical thinking. They were measured before and after training and 6 months later for cognitive functions, anxiety, depression and spiritual well-being. Blood was drawn before and after training and assayed for immune system cells.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the cognitive training group, the participants who received Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training had significantly lower depression levels both after training and 6 months later. The MBSR group also had improvements in psychomotor speed and significant decreases in resting monocyte activation immediately after training.

 

These are somewhat disappointing results as neither Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or cognitive training produced significant improvements in cognitive function. The study was rather small, however, with only 12 and 9 participants in the groups respectively. statistical power was lacking to detect differences. These results suggest that large changes in cognitive abilities are not produced in these patients by either MBSR or cognitive training.

 

Nevertheless, MBSR training did significantly improve depression in these elderly with mild cognitive impairment. MBSR has been shown to improve depression in a variety of different types of healthy and sick individuals. So, this result is not surprising but important as depression is a serious problem in the elderly, especially those with diminished cognitive capacity and that depression can produce further physical and psychological deterioration in the patients.

 

Importantly, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) appears to reduce immune monocyte activation. This suggests that MBSR may reduce inflammation. It has been previously shown to reduce inflammation in other groups. This is potentially important in that levels of inflammation are generally high in patients with mild cognitive impairment and chronic inflammation is a threat to the health and well-being of these patients. Reducing it with MBSR training may have long-term consequences for improved health in elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment.

 

So, improve inflammation and depression with mild cognitive impairment with mindfulness.

 

A mindfulness intervention reduces inflammatory biomarkers that are associated with cognitive decline and dementia in older adults.” – Eric Dolan

 

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

 

Marciniak, R., Šumec, R., Vyhnálek, M., Bendíčková, K., Lázničková, P., Forte, G., Jeleník, A., Římalová, V., Frič, J., Hort, J., & Sheardová, K. (2020). The Effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on Depression, Cognition, and Immunity in Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Pilot Feasibility Study. Clinical interventions in aging, 15, 1365–1381. https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S249196

 

Abstract

Background

Mindfulness-based programs have shown a promising effect on several health factors associated with increased risk of dementia and the conversion from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to dementia such as depression, stress, cognitive decline, immune system and brain structural and functional changes. Studies on mindfulness in MCI subjects are sparse and frequently lack control intervention groups.

Objective

To determine the feasibility and the effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) practice on depression, cognition and immunity in MCI compared to cognitive training.

Methods

Twenty-eight MCI subjects were randomly assigned to two groups. MBSR group underwent 8-week MBSR program. Control group underwent 8-week cognitive training. Their cognitive and immunological profiles and level of depressive symptoms were examined at baseline, after each 8-week intervention (visit 2, V2) and six months after each intervention (visit 3, V3). MBSR participants completed feasibility questionnaire at V2.

Results

Twenty MCI patients completed the study (MBSR group n=12, control group n=8). MBSR group showed significant reduction in depressive symptoms at both V2 (p=0.03) and V3 (p=0.0461) compared to the baseline. There was a minimal effect on cognition – a group comparison analysis showed better psychomotor speed in the MBSR group compared to the control group at V2 (p=0.0493) but not at V3. There was a detectable change in immunological profiles in both groups, more pronounced in the MBSR group. Participants checked only positive/neutral answers concerning the attractivity/length of MBSR intervention. More severe cognitive decline (PVLT≤36) was associated with the lower adherence to home practice.

Conclusion

MBSR is well-accepted potentially promising intervention with positive effect on cognition, depressive symptoms and immunological profile.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7429186/

 

Increase White Matter in the Brains of Aging Women with Tai Chi

Increase White Matter in the Brains of Aging Women with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“studies have shown tai chi’s association with improved cognition and neuroplasticity. This has led the scientific community to suggest tai chi may be of useful treating physical and psychological disorders, including stroke, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and depression.” – Sara Alvarado

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. The elderly frequently have problems with attention, thinking, and memory abilities, known as mild cognitive impairment. An encouraging new development is that mindfulness practices such as meditation training and mindful movement practices can significantly reduce these declines in cognitive ability. In addition, it has been 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 been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners.

 

Tai Chi has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevityTai Chi training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. Tai Chi practice 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 function, memory, and reduce age related deterioration of the brain. So, it makes sense to further study the effects of Tai Chi training on the brains of older adults.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi Training Evokes Significant Changes in Brain White Matter Network in Older Women.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7151065/) Yue and colleagues recruited elderly women (average age of 63 years) and who had been routinely performing (90 minutes at least 5 times per week for at least 6 years in groups) either Tai Chi or daily walking. They were measured for mental ability, working memory, and cognitive ability. In addition, their brains were scanned with Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI).

 

They found that in comparison to the walking group, the brains of the Tai Chi group had a greater volume of white matter indicating that their brains could transfer information effectively both locally and globally. They also found that the Tai Chi group had significantly better working memory performance than the walking group and that greater the volume of white matter in their brains the better their working memories. This was true for both working memory speed and accuracy.

 

A strength of the present study is that there was an active control group, walking, that was, like Tai Chi, performed in a group and was a moderate exercise. So, the results can be interpreted as due to the performance of Tai Chi itself and not to nonspecific factors such as socialization and exercise. The weaknesses in the study included the fact that only women were studied, there was no random assignment to groups, and that there was no manipulation of Tai Chi or walking practice. The participants self-selected which exercise to participate in. This opens up the possibility that there may have been systematic differences between the groups.

 

The results suggest that routine Tai Chi practice improves the brain’s ability to transfer information around the nervous system in elderly women. This may protect that individuals from the inevitable deterioration of the brain with aging and its associated decline in cognitive ability. The relationship between white matter and working memory is evidence for that protection against cognitive decline. These results support previous findings that mindfulness practices can protect the individual from age related brain deterioration and cognitive decline.

 

So, increase white matter in the brains of aging women with Tai Chi.

 

A comparison of the effects of regular sessions of tai chi, walking, and social discussion, has found tai chi was associated with the biggest gains in brain volume and improved cognition.” – About Memory

 

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

 

Yue, C., Zou, L., Mei, J., Moore, D., Herold, F., Müller, P., Yu, Q., Liu, Y., Lin, J., Tao, Y., Loprinzi, P., & Zhang, Z. (2020). Tai Chi Training Evokes Significant Changes in Brain White Matter Network in Older Women. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 8(1), 57. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare8010057

 

Abstract

Background: Cognitive decline is age relevant and it can start as early as middle age. The decline becomes more obvious among older adults, which is highly associated with increased risk of developing dementia (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease). White matter damage was found to be related to cognitive decline through aging. The purpose of the current study was to compare the effects of Tai Chi (TC) versus walking on the brain white matter network among Chinese elderly women. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted where 42 healthy elderly women were included. Tai Chi practitioners (20 females, average age: 62.9 ± 2.38 years, education level 9.05 ± 1.8 years) and the matched walking participants (22 females, average age: 63.27 ± 3.58 years, educational level: 8.86 ± 2.74 years) underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) scans. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and graph theory were employed to study the data, construct the white matter matrix, and compare the brain network attributes between the two groups. Results: Results from graph-based analyses showed that the small-world attributes were higher for the TC group than for the walking group (p < 0.05, Cohen’s d = 1.534). Some effects were significant (p < 0.001) with very large effect sizes. Meanwhile, the aggregation coefficient and local efficiency attributes were also higher for the TC group than for the walking group (p > 0.05). However, no significant difference was found between the two groups in node attributes and edge analysis. Conclusion: Regular TC training is more conducive to optimize the brain functioning and networking of the elderly. The results of the current study help to identify the mechanisms underlying the cognitive protective effects of TC.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7151065/

 

Reduce Anxiety with Anapanasati (Breath) Meditation

Reduce Anxiety with Anapanasati (Breath) Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Even a few minutes of meditation everyday can give you the space you need to reflect on your anxiety, calm your nerves, and allow you to create a retreat away from hectic modern life.” – Natural Anxiety Meds

 

Anxiety at low levels is normal and can act to signal potential future danger. But when it is overwhelming it creates what we label as anxiety disorders. They are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, or 18% of the population. A characterizing feature of anxiety disorders is that the suffer overly identifies with and personalizes their thoughts. The sufferer has recurring thoughts, such as impending disaster, that they may realize are unreasonable, but are unable to shake. It has been estimated that one out of every three absences at work are caused by high levels of anxiety. Also, it has been found to be the most common reason for chronic school absenteeism. In addition, people with an anxiety disorder are three-to-five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than non-sufferers, making it a major burden on the healthcare system.

 

Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. There are a number of psychological therapies for anxiety. But, about 45% of the patients treated do not respond to the therapy. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness improves the regulation of  all emotions, including negative emotions like anxiety. There are a large variety of mindfulness meditation practices. So, it is important to examine the effectiveness of different mindfulness meditation practices on anxiety.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of anapanasati meditation on anxiety: a randomized control trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6894628/) Sivaramappa and colleagues recruited healthy adults and randomly assigned them to either receive a 6-month program of once a day, 6 days per week, for 1 hour anapanasati (breath following) meditation or to a no-treatment control group. The participants completed a measure of anxiety levels before and after the 6-month treatment period.

 

They found that the participants who practiced meditation had significantly reduced levels of anxiety after the 6-minth period while the no-treatment group had a significant increase in anxiety. Interestingly, the decrease in the meditation group was due solely to reductions in anxiety in participants over 40 years of age while the increase in the control group was due solely to increases in anxiety in participants under 40 years of age. Since the control participants under 40 years of age significantly increased in anxiety levels but the meditation participants under 40 did not, it suggests that meditation protected under 40 participants from increasing anxiety levels. In addition, in the meditation group, the reductions were primarily among participants who expressed high anxiety levels at baseline.

 

These results replicate the common finding that mindfulness training reduces anxiety levels. The present study demonstrated that a particular form of focused meditation practice, anapanasati (breath following) meditation, was effective in lowering anxiety particularly in older participants and those who had high anxiety levels at the start of the study. This improves our understanding of meditation effects on anxiety.

 

So, reduce anxiety with anapanasati (breath) meditation.

 

“Breathing exercises are an effective, quick, and easy solution for stress and anxiety relief. Proper breathing techniques work on anxiety on a physiological level by automatically slowing your heart rate. The effect on anxiety is almost instant.” – Alice Boyes

 

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

 

Sivaramappa, B., Deshpande, S., Kumar, P., & Nagendra, H. R. (2019). Effect of anapanasati meditation on anxiety: a randomized control trial. Annals of neurosciences, 26(1), 32–36. https://doi.org/10.5214/ans.0972.7531.260107

 

Abstract

Background

Meditation has shown positive results in improving the psychological disorders such as anxiety. There is a need to study the therapeutic benefits of Anapanasati meditation, a mindfulness meditation technique.

Purpose

The study aims at investigating the effect of Anapanasati meditation on individuals with moderate anxiety.

Methods

A total of 112 participants who were willing to participate in the study were recruited for the study. Anapanasati meditation was used as an intervention. The participants were divided into two groups experiment and control groups. Experiment group had 56 persons performing Anapanasati meditation and Control group had 56 persons not performing any type of meditation. The experiment group practiced one hour of Anapanasati meditation daily under the supervision of experts for six months and continued their daily routine and control group was not given any intervention, but they continued their daily routine. State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) is used to assess the anxiety level.

Results

The STAI score before and after Anapanasati meditation was analysed for both experiment and control groups using Paired Samples T test. The experiment group has shown significant reduction in the STAI (P < 0.05) score after the intervention whereas in the control group the reduction in STAI score was not significant.

Conclusion

This study has shown that after six months of intervention, the subjects with moderate anxiety who practiced Anapanasati meditation had a significant decrease in their STAI score and the control group has not shown significant change in the STAI score.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6894628/

 

Improve Balance in the Elderly with Traditional Tai Chi or Augmented Reality-Assisted Tai-Chi

Improve Balance in the Elderly with Traditional Tai Chi or Augmented Reality-Assisted Tai-Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese exercise that can help older adults improve their balance and lower their fall risk.” – Harvard Health

 

The process of aging affects every aspect of the physical and cognitive domains. Every system in the body deteriorates including motor function with a decline in strength, flexibility, and balance. Impaired balance is a particular problem as it can lead to falls. 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, whether augmented reality can improve the effectiveness of Tai Chi training in improving balance.

 

In today’s Research News article “Augmented reality-assisted training with selected Tai-Chi movements improves balance control and increases lower limb muscle strength in older adults: A prospective randomized trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7265060/) Chen and colleagues recruited healthy elderly over 65 years of age and randomly assigned them to an 8-week training in either traditional 24 movement Yang Tai Chi or to an Augmented form of Tai Chi. Augmented Tai Chi involved a computerized monitoring of movements and video feedback on the movements and only 8 of the 24 Yang style movements were included. They were measured before and after training for balance, functional reach, timed up-and-go, and lower extremity muscle strength.

 

They found that both Tai Chi groups had significant improvements in dynamic balance and lower extremity muscle strength. While only static balance was significantly improved in the traditional Tai Chi group, both static and dynamic balance and mobility (timed up-and-go) were significantly improved in the simplified augmented Tai Chi group. The augmented Tai Chi group improved more in all measures that the traditional Tai Chi group, but the differences were not statistically significant.

 

The results demonstrate that Tai Chi training is effective in improving balance and leg muscle strength in the elderly. This is important to prevent falls. There was evidence that practicing a simplified program with computerized augmentation may produce superior results, but a larger study is needed to have the statistical power to determine if this is in fact a reliable difference. It will also be important to determine if the simplification of the movements (8 rather than 24) or the augmentation, or both are responsible for better performance.

 

One drawback of the augmented program is that it requires practice in the lab. A strength of traditional Tai Chi practice is that it can be practiced without professional supervision and in groups making it inexpensive to deliver and fun to engage in. So, although the augmented program may produce superior results, there are still considerable advantages to traditional Tai Chi for improving the health and well-being of the elderly..

 

So, improve balance in the elderly with traditional Tai Chi or augmented reality-assisted Tai-Chi.

 

When you’re practicing the movements, you’re shifting your weight from one foot to the other to maintain balance. By doing (tai chi), you become more aware of the position of your body in space — which is something we become less aware of as we age.” – Michael Irwin

 

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

 

Chen, P. J., Penn, I. W., Wei, S. H., Chuang, L. R., & Sung, W. H. (2020). Augmented reality-assisted training with selected Tai-Chi movements improves balance control and increases lower limb muscle strength in older adults: A prospective randomized trial. Journal of exercise science and fitness, 18(3), 142–147. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesf.2020.05.003

 

Abstract

Background

Tai-Chi benefits older adults by enhancing balance control and increasing the muscle strength of the lower limbs. However, a complete set of traditional Tai-Chi exercises is sometimes too difficult for beginners. We investigated whether practicing augmented reality-assisted training with selected Tai-Chi movements tailored to the practitioner’s ability (selected Tai-Chi, or sTC) is as effective as performing a complete set of Tai-Chi sequences (complete traditional Tai-Chi, or tTC).

Methods

In this prospective randomized trial carried out in the Beitou District of Taipei City, Taiwan, community-dwelling adults aged ≥65 and without any debilitating diseases (n = 28) were included. Participants were randomly assigned to the sTC group (n = 14) or the tTC group (n = 14). Participants in the sTC group practiced selected Tai-Chi movements using the augmented reality Tai-Chi training system. Participants of the tTC group were asked to complete the 24-form Yang-style Tai-Chi following the instructions of Tai-Chi masters. Each training session lasted 30 min, with 3 sessions per week for 8 weeks. Pre- and post-intervention evaluations included functional balance tests, comprising the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), Timed Up and Go test (TUG), and Functional Reach Test (FRT), as well as muscle strength measurements of the lower extremities.

Results

Pre-intervention evaluations showed significant differences in FRT (p = 0.034) and left hip abductor muscle strength (p = 0.046) between the sTC and tTC groups. After 8 weeks of training, the BBS, TUG, and FRT scores in the sTC group showed significant improvement overall. Although all three functional balance test scores improved in the tTC group, only the improvement in BBS was statistically significant (p = 0.001). After 8 weeks, all muscle strength measurements increased by an average of 3.1 ± 1.0 kgw in the sTC group and 1.6 ± 0.8 kgw in the tTC group.

Conclusions

The augmented reality-assisted training with selected Tai-Chi movements, designed based on objective measurements of the practitioner’s capability, improved balance control and muscle strength of lower limbs at least as effectively as the complete sequence of traditional Tai-Chi exercises.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7265060/

 

Improve Knee Osteoarthritis with Mind-Body Exercises

Improve Knee Osteoarthritis with Mind-Body Exercises

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Baduanjin exercise provided a safe and feasible treatment option for patients with knee OA, as well as offered reductions in pain, stiffness, and disability, which helped improve the patients’ quadriceps strength and aerobic ability.” – Bingchen An

 

Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative joint disease that is the most common form of arthritis. It produces pain, swelling, and stiffness of the joints. It is the leading cause of disability in the U.S., with about 43% of arthritis sufferers limited in mobility and about a third having limitations that affect their ability to perform their work. Knee osteoarthritis effects 5% of adults over 25 years of age and 12% of those over 65. It is painful and disabling. Its causes are varied including, hereditary, injury including sports injuries, repetitive stress injuries, infection, or from being overweight.

 

There are no cures for knee osteoarthritis. Treatments are primarily symptomatic, including weight loss, exercise, braces, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, arthroscopic knee surgery, or even knee or hip replacement. Gentle movements of the joints with exercise and physical therapy appear to be helpful in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. This suggests that alternative and mind-body practices that involve gentle knee movements may be useful in for treatment. Indeed, yoga practice has been shown to be effective in treating arthritis and Tai Chi and Qigong have also been shown to reduce the physical symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Baduanjin is a mind-body training that is very similar to Tai Chi and consists of 8 movements for limbs, body-trunk, and eye movements.  So, it would seem reasonable to explore the effectiveness of Baduanjin practice in treating knee osteoarthritis.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindful Exercise (Baduanjin) as an Adjuvant Treatment for Older Adults (60 Years Old and Over) of Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7312696/) Ye and colleagues recruited adults over the age of 60 years who were diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis and had no experience with mind-body practices. All participants were provided with standard therapy consisting of acupuncture, massage, and moxibustion. They were randomly assigned to either no further treatment or to practice Baduanjin for 40 minutes, 3 times per week for 12 weeks. They were measured before during and after treatment for knee function, and postural control, including the length and perimeter area of center of pressure.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control group, the group that practiced Baduanjin had significantly improved physical knee function and postural control and lower knee stiffness and pain. No adverse events occurred with Baduanjin practice. So, Baduanjin is a safe and effective treatment for knee osteoarthritis in older adults.

 

Some advantages of Baduanjin practice include the facts that it is not strenuous, involves 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. It can also be practiced without professional supervision and in groups making it inexpensive to deliver and fun to engage in. This makes Baduanjin practice an excellent means to improve the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis in elderly individuals.

 

Baduanjin exercise, a common form of Chinese Qigong exercise that consists of eight movements of low intensity, may have favourable effects for people with knee arthritis.” – Arthritis Digest

 

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

 

Ye, J., Zheng, Q., Zou, L., Yu, Q., Veronese, N., Grabovac, I., Stefanac, S., Tzeng, H. M., & Yu, J. J. (2020). Mindful Exercise (Baduanjin) as an Adjuvant Treatment for Older Adults (60 Years Old and Over) of Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2020, 9869161. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/9869161

 

Abstract

Background

The postural stability is a major factor that helps prevent developing knee osteoarthritis with aging. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of Baduanjin qigong on postural control and physical function in older adults with knee osteoarthritis.

Methods

Fifty-six individuals over 60 years of age with knee osteoarthritis were randomly assigned to either an experimental group (n = 28) or a control group (n = 28). Participants in the experimental group received a 12-week Baduanjin training, while those in the control group did not receive any additional physical exercise during the study period. The postural control was quantified by perimeter and ellipse area of center of pressure movement trajectory. The assessments were conducted three times (baseline, week 8, and week 12).

Results

The perimeter and ellipse area with both open- and closed-eyes conditions and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) function were significantly improved at week eight in the experimental group (p < 0.005). The ellipse area with open-eyes condition, WOMAC index, and stiffness and physical function domains were significantly decreased after the 12 weeks of Baduanjin training compared to the control group (p < 0.005). Only the perimeter area with both open- and closed-eyes conditions was not statistically significant at week 12 in the intervention group (p > 0.005).

Conclusions

Baduanjin is an effective and adjuvant therapy for older adults with knee osteoarthritis. Regular Baduanjin training can improve postural control and WOMAC function of old individuals with knee osteoarthritis. More advanced techniques and biopsychological measurements are required for further understanding of Baduanjin exercise in this population.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7312696/

 

Improve Cognitive Function in the Elderly with Tai Chi

Improve Cognitive Function in the Elderly with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

tai chi appears to improve executive function—the ability to multitask, manage time, and make decisions—in people without any cognitive decline. In those with mild cognitive impairment, tai chi slowed the progression to dementia more than other types of exercise and improved their cognitive function in a comparable fashion to other types of exercise or cognitive training.” – Harvard Health

 

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

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi is Effective in Delaying Cognitive Decline in Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment: Evidence from 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/PMC7132349/), Yang and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effects of Tai Chi practice on mental decline in the elderly. They identified 11 published research studies with a total of 1061 participants over the age of 60 with mild cognitive impairment.

 

They report that the published research found that Tai Chi practice produced a significant increase in global cognitive function including improved memory, learning ability, mental speed, attention, ideas, abstraction, creativity, mental flexibility, and visuospatial perception. In general, the effect sizes were modest, but they tended to signal a reversal of the decline. Hence, Tai Chi practice appears to improve the mental capabilities of the elderly with mild cognitive impairment. The studies included in the analysis did not have a comparison of Tai Chi practice to another form of exercise. So, it is possible that the benefits were produced, not by Tai Chi per se but by moderate exercise.

 

Tai Chi is an ancient mindfulness practice that involves slow prescribed movements. It is gentle and completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, are 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 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 Tai Chi practice should be recommended for inclusion in the lifestyle of aging individuals.

 

So, improve cognitive function in the elderly with Tai Chi.

 

Tai Chi has consistent, small effects on improving cognitive performance in both healthy older adults and older adults with some cognitive impairment.” – P. M. Wayne

 

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, J., Zhang, L., Tang, Q., Wang, F., Li, Y., Peng, H., & Wang, S. (2020). Tai Chi is Effective in Delaying Cognitive Decline in Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment: Evidence from a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2020, 3620534. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/3620534

 

Abstract

To determine whether Tai Chi (TC) is effective in slowing cognitive decline in older populations with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on Tai Chi and MCI. We searched eight electronic databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, Wanfang, Web of Science, MEDLINE, CNKI, EBSCO, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials) for appropriate RCTs published up to August 2019. For those studies included, the data were extracted, methodological quality was evaluated, and then meta-analysis was performed using Review Manager software (version 5.3). A total of 11 of the studies were available for systematic review, which together included 1061 participants, met the inclusion criteria, and ten of these were included in the meta-analysis. For most RCTs, the methodological quality was moderate. The meta-analysis revealed that Tai Chi could significantly improve global cognitive function; memory and learning; mental speed and attention; ideas, abstraction, figural creations, and mental flexibility; and visuospatial perception. The present review adds to the evidence showing that Tai Chi is potentially beneficial in improving cognitive functions among elderly people with MCI. However, strictly designed and well-reported RCTs are required.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7132349/

 

Improve Cognition and Balance in Older Adults with Tai Chi

Improve Cognition and Balance in Older Adults with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Tai chi combines the physical components needed to stay upright—leg strength, flexibility, range of motion, and reflexes—all of which tend to decline with age. . . “It’s like practicing tightrope walking on the ground. You’re practicing your balance and you’re teaching your body to be more sensitive and have greater strength.” – Stanwood Chang

 

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. It is obviously important to discover methods to improve balance and decrease the number of falls in older adults.

 

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 cognitive decline and to reduce the frequency of falls in the elderly.

 

In today’s Research News article “Correlation Between Cognition and Balance Among Middle-Aged and Older Adults Observed Through a Tai Chi Intervention Program.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00668/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1302118_69_Psycho_20200416_arts_A), Xiao and colleagues recruited middle age and older health adults (average age of 59 years). They received Tai Chi training for 1 hour, 3 days per week, for 12 weeks. They were measured before and after training for global cognitive function, static and dynamic balance, body size, lower limb strength, and aerobic endurance.

 

They found in comparison to baseline after Tai Chi training there were significant increases in global cognitive function, and static and dynamic balance. Also, they found that before training the higher the levels of both dynamic and static balance the higher the levels of cognitive function. In addition, they found that the greater the increase in both static and dynamic balance after Tai Chi training, the greater the increase in cognitive function. These improvements were found to be related to increases in lower limb strength.

 

These results are interesting as both balance and cognition decline with age. Tai Chi training has been shown in prior research to reduce the decline in both with aging. To my knowledge this is the first time that these improvements appear to be linked where improvements in balance co-occur with improvements in balance. These results suggest that Tai Chi training in older adults may delay cognitive decline and also delay decline in balance. This may tend to reduce the likelihood of falls and precipitous loss of cognitive ability.

 

These findings support the use of Tai Chito improve balance and cognition in older adults. Some advantages of Tai Chi include the facts that it is not strenuous, involves 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. It can also be practiced without professional supervision and in groups making it inexpensive to deliver and fun to engage in. This makes Tai Chi practice an excellent means to improve balance and reduce falls and delay cognitive decline in older individuals.

 

So, improve cognition and balance in older adults with Tai Chi.

 

When you’re practicing the movements, you’re shifting your weight from one foot to the other to maintain balance. By doing (tai chi), you become more aware of the position of your body in space — which is something we become less aware of as we age.” – Michael Irwin

 

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

 

Xiao T, Yang L, Smith L, Loprinzi PD, Veronese N, Yao J, Zhang Z and Yu JJ (2020) Correlation Between Cognition and Balance Among Middle-Aged and Older Adults Observed Through a Tai Chi Intervention Program. Front. Psychol. 11:668. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00668

 

Abstract

Background: Age-associated decline in cognition and balance may cause severe ability loss for daily living activities among middle-aged and older adults. The relationship between cognition and balance in this aging population remains to be explored.

Objective: The present study Is exploratory in nature and aimed to examine the relationship between balance (both static and dynamic components) and global cognitive function among middle-aged and older adults through Tai Chi (TC) practice as a research avenue.

Methods: A short-term (12 weeks) intervention of TC was conducted among middle-aged and older adults in the community setting. Global cognitive function (using the Chinese version of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment score (MoCA) and balance (i.e., one leg standing test score; Timed Up and Go Test score, TUGT) of all participants were assessed before and after the intervention. Age, body mass index (BMI), sex, and physical fitness variables (Chair Stand Test, CST; the 6-Meter Walk Test, 6MWT) were also collected as confounding factors.

Results: Significant moderator effects of baseline CST on the association between the dichotomized baseline MoCA score and the baseline left leg balance score (p = 0.0247), the baseline right leg balance score (p = 0.0140) and the baseline TUGT score (p = 0.0346) were found. Change score of left score balance (p = 0.0192) and change score of TUGT (p = 0.0162) were found to be significantly associated with change score of cognitive function.

Conclusion: Cognitive function and balance are interrelated in middle-aged and older adults. The association between global cognitive function and balance Is moderated by strength of lower limbs. The change scores of cognitive function and balance introduced by TC training were found to be positively correlated. Future research Is warranted to further confirm the cause-effect relationship of cognitive function and balance and its influencing factors among middle-aged and older adults utilizing intervention studies with larger sample sizes.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00668/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1302118_69_Psycho_20200416_arts_A

 

Improve the Aging Brain and Well-Being with Mindfulness Training

Improve the Aging Brain and Well-Being with Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Abstract

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

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

 

Improve a Biological Marker of Aging, Telomeres, with Meditation

Improve a Biological Marker of Aging, Telomeres, with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“While we might expect our bodies and brains to follow a shared trajectory of development and degeneration over time, by actively practicing strategies such as meditation, we might actually preserve and protect our physical body and brain structure to extend our golden years and shine even more brightly in old age.” – Sonima Wellness

 

One of the most exciting findings in molecular biology in recent years was the discovery of the telomere. This is a component of the DNA molecule that is attached to the ends of the strands. Recent genetic research has suggested that the telomere and its regulation is the biological mechanism that produces aging. As we age the tail of the DNA molecule called the telomere shortens. When it gets very short cells have a more and more difficult time reproducing and become more likely to produce defective cells. On a cellular basis, this is what produces aging. As we get older the new cells produced are more and more likely to be defective. The shortening of the telomere occurs each time the cell is replaced. So, slowly as we age it gets shorter and shorter.

 

Fortunately, there is a mechanism to protect the telomere. There is an enzyme in the body called telomerase that helps to prevent shortening of the telomere. It also promotes cell survival and enhances stress-resistance.  Research suggests that processes that increase telomerase activity tend to slow the aging process by protecting the telomere.  One activity that seems to increase telomerase activity and protect telomere length is mindfulness practice. Hence, engaging in mindfulness practices may protect the telomere and thereby slow the aging process.

 

In today’s Research News article “Telomere length correlates with subtelomeric DNA methylation in long-term mindfulness practitioners.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7067861/), and Mendioroz colleagues recruited long-term meditators (greater than 10 years of experience) and non-meditators matched for gender, ethnic group, and age. They were measured for mindfulness, anxiety, depression, resilience, happiness, self-compassion, experiential avoidance, and quality of life. They also provided blood samples that were assayed for telomere length and DNA methylation.

 

They found that the long-term meditators were significantly higher in for mindfulness, resilience, happiness, self-compassion, and quality of life and significantly lower in for anxiety, depression, and experiential avoidance.

 

They also found that the meditators had significantly longer telomeres than the matched controls. Interestingly, while in the controls the greater the age of the participant the shorter the telomeres, in the long-term meditators, telomere length was the same regardless of age. In addition, they found that in the long-term meditators, telomere length was significantly associated with DNA methylation at specific regions but not for the matched controls.

 

This study found, as have others, that long-term meditation practice is associated with longer telomeres. The fact, that the telomere length was not associated with age in the meditators suggests that meditation practice may protect the individual from age-related erosion of telomeres. The results further suggest that meditation may do so through specific methylation of DNA. Stress has been shown to results in shortening the telomeres. Hence, a potential mechanism whereby meditation may protect telomeres may be by reducing the physiological and psychological responses to stress.

 

It is suspected, but not proven, that telomere length is related to health and well-being. The findings that the long-term meditators had significantly better mental health tends to support this notion. There is evidence that meditation practice increases longevity. It can be speculated that meditation practice may do so by affecting molecular genetic mechanisms that prevent the degradation of the telomeres with age.

 

So, improve a biological marker of aging, telomeres, with meditation.

 

Meditation also helps to protect our telomeres, the protective caps at the end of our chromosomes. Telomeres are longest when we’re young and naturally shorten as we age. Shorter telomeres are associated with stress and higher risk for many diseases including cancer, and depend on the telomerase enzyme to enable them to rebuild and repair.”- Paula Watkins

 

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

 

Mendioroz, M., Puebla-Guedea, M., Montero-Marín, J., Urdánoz-Casado, A., Blanco-Luquin, I., Roldán, M., Labarga, A., & García-Campayo, J. (2020). Telomere length correlates with subtelomeric DNA methylation in long-term mindfulness practitioners. Scientific reports, 10(1), 4564. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-61241-6

 

Abstract

Mindfulness and meditation techniques have proven successful for the reduction of stress and improvement in general health. In addition, meditation is linked to longevity and longer telomere length, a proposed biomarker of human aging. Interestingly, DNA methylation changes have been described at specific subtelomeric regions in long-term meditators compared to controls. However, the molecular basis underlying these beneficial effects of meditation on human health still remains unclear. Here we show that DNA methylation levels, measured by the Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip (Illumina) array, at specific subtelomeric regions containing GPR31 and SERPINB9 genes were associated with telomere length in long-term meditators with a strong statistical trend when correcting for multiple testing. Notably, age showed no association with telomere length in the group of long-term meditators. These results may suggest that long-term meditation could be related to epigenetic mechanisms, in particular gene-specific DNA methylation changes at distinct subtelomeric regions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7067861/

 

Improve Physical Function and Postural Control Complexity in Older Adults with Peripheral Neuropathy with Tai Chi

Improve Physical Function and Postural Control Complexity in Older Adults with Peripheral Neuropathy with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“slow and fluid movements improve the body’s alignment, posture, strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, and stamina. Many of these benefits of Tai Chi are consistent with many other forms of low-impact exercise, with the added benefit of focus on improved posture, balance, and alignment.” – Robert Humphries

 

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.

 

Peripheral neuropathy can compound the effects of aging on motor ability. It involves damage to the peripheral nerves carrying information to the spinal cord and brain. This results in deficits in sensory information from the body and motor control. Peripheral neuropathy can impair muscle movement, prevent normal sensation in the arms and legs, and cause pain. In this way peripheral neuropathy may further impair older adults motor abilities and increase the likelihood of falls.

 

Tai Chi training is designed to enhance and regulate the functional activities of the body through posture, regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. It includes posture and balance training and has been shown to improve balance and coordination. Indeed, Tai Chi training has been shown to reduce the likelihood of falls in the elderly. One possible way that Tai Chi training may contribute to the decrease in falls is by improving postural control. This interesting speculation has not been previously investigated in older patients with peripheral neuropathy.

 

In today’s Research News article “Complexity-based measures inform Tai Chi’s impact on standing postural control in older adults with peripheral neuropathy.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3640896/), Manor and colleagues recruited older adults (average age 71 years) with peripheral neuropathy. They were provided 3 1-hour Tai Chi classes per week for 24 weeks. They were measured before and after training for foot sole sensation, leg strength, mobility, functional ability, and postural control, including measures of balance, speed, area under the curve, and complexity of postural control while standing.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline, after Tai Chi training there were significant improvements in foot sole sensation, leg strength, mobility, and physical function, including knee extension, walking, and speed. There was also a significant increase in postural control complexity. In addition, they found that the greater the increase in postural control complexity the greater the improvements in foot sole sensation, mobility, and functional ability.

 

This study did not have a control condition so conclusions must be tempered with the understanding that the results may have been due to time-based confounding variables. Nevertheless, the results suggest that Tai Chi practice improves the physical condition and abilities of older adults with peripheral neuropathy. Aging is associated with a loss of motoric complexity. The improvement in postural complexity observed in the present study may then represent the ability of Tai Chi practice to restore this complexity and thereby help the older adults’ physical abilities.

 

So, improve physical function and postural control complexity in older adults with peripheral neuropathy with Tai Chi.

 

We work to maintain great posture for a 60-120 minute class, reap the benefits, feel great, and then go home and try to emulate the posture in our natural environment.” – Scott

 

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

 

Manor, B., Lipsitz, L. A., Wayne, P. M., Peng, C. K., & Li, L. (2013). Complexity-based measures inform Tai Chi’s impact on standing postural control in older adults with peripheral neuropathy. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 13, 87. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-13-87

 

Abstract

Background

Tai Chi training enhances physical function and may reduce falls in older adults with and without balance disorders, yet its effect on postural control as quantified by the magnitude or speed of center-of-pressure (COP) excursions beneath the feet is less clear. We hypothesized that COP metrics derived from complex systems theory may better capture the multi-component stimulus that Tai Chi has on the postural control system, as compared with traditional COP measures.

Methods

We performed a secondary analysis of a pilot, non-controlled intervention study that examined the effects of Tai Chi on standing COP dynamics, plantar sensation, and physical function in 25 older adults with peripheral neuropathy. Tai Chi training was based on the Yang style and consisted of three, one-hour group sessions per week for 24 weeks. Standing postural control was assessed with a force platform at baseline, 6, 12, 18, and 24 weeks. The degree of COP complexity, as defined by the presence of fluctuations existing over multiple timescales, was calculated using multiscale entropy analysis. Traditional measures of COP speed and area were also calculated. Foot sole sensation, six-minute walk (6MW) and timed up-and-go (TUG) were also measured at each assessment.

Results

Traditional measures of postural control did not change from baseline. The COP complexity index (mean±SD) increased from baseline (4.1±0.5) to week 6 (4.5±0.4), and from week 6 to week 24 (4.7±0.4) (p=0.02). Increases in COP complexity—from baseline to week 24—correlated with improvements in foot sole sensation (p=0.01), the 6MW (p=0.001) and TUG (p=0.01).

Conclusions

Subjects of the Tai Chi program exhibited increased complexity of standing COP dynamics. These increases were associated with improved plantar sensation and physical function. Although more research is needed, results of this non-controlled pilot study suggest that complexity-based COP measures may inform the study of complex mind-body interventions, like Tai Chi, on postural control in those with peripheral neuropathy or other age-related balance disorders.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3640896/