Reduce Spinal Degeneration in the Elderly with Tai Chi Practice

Reduce Spinal Degeneration in the Elderly with Tai Chi Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Short abstract

Objective

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

Methods

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

Results

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

Conclusion

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

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

 

Reduce Aging Cognitive Decline with Mindfulness

Reduce Aging Cognitive Decline with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

We know that approximately 50 percent of people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment—the intermediate stage between the expected declines of normal aging and the more serious cognitive deterioration associated with dementia—may develop dementia within five years.” – Rebecca Erwin Wells

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities (cognition) which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem solving abilities. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. An encouraging new development is that mindfulness practices such as meditation training 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 and yoga have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners.

 

Before active dementia occurs, patients show problems with attention, thinking, and memory known as mild cognitive impairment. Intervening at this point 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 cognitive performance.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Mindfulness on Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6159696/ ), Wong and colleagues recruited healthy older adults (> 60 years of age) who were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and were meditation naïve. They participated in an 8-week, 1.5 hours per week, program of mindfulness training that included body scan meditation, breath meditation, loving kindness meditation, and everyday mindfulness practice. The participants were also encouraged to practice at home. They were measured before and after training and one year later for cognitive function, psychological health, mindfulness, mindfulness adherence, and daily living functionality.

 

They found that after training the participants had significant improvements in mindfulness and cognitive function. These improvements were no longer significant at the one year follow up. This appears, however, to be due to the level of continuing practice as the greater the amount of meditation practice during the 1-year follow-up period the greater the level of cognitive function. Indeed, those who practiced above the group average had significantly better cognitive performance at the 1-year follow-up than those who were below average in practicing.

 

These results suggest that mindfulness training produces significant cognitive benefits for elderly individuals with mild cognitive impairments. But continued practice is necessary to maintain the benefits. Hence, long-term mindfulness practice may be able to restrain further cognitive decline in these patients and may delay or prevent the onset of dementia. It is clear however, that continuing mindfulness practice is required.

 

So, reduce aging cognitive decline with mindfulness.

 

“What we do know is that long-term engagement in mindfulness meditation may enhance cognitive performance in older adults, and that with persistent practice, these benefits may be sustained. That’s great news for the millions of aging adults working to combat the negative effects of aging on the brain.” – Grace Bullock

 

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

 

Wong, W. P., Coles, J., Chambers, R., Wu, D. B., & Hassed, C. (2017). The Effects of Mindfulness on Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment. Journal of Alzheimer’s disease reports, 1(1), 181-193. doi:10.3233/ADR-170031

 

Abstract

Background:

The current lack of an effective cure for dementia would exacerbate its prevalence and incidence globally. Growing evidence has linked mindfulness to cognitive and psychological improvements that could be relevant for mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Objective:

To investigate whether mindfulness practice can improve health outcomes of MCI.

Methods:

The study is the first longitudinal mixed-methods observational study with a one-year follow-up period, that customized an eight-week group-based mindfulness training program for older adults with MCI (n = 14). Measures included cognitive function, psychological health, trait mindfulness, adherence to mindfulness practice, and everyday activities functioning as assessed at pre-intervention, post-intervention, and one-year follow-up. Repeated measures ANOVAs, Pearson’s correlation analyses, and Mann-Whitney U tests were performed.

Results:

The MCI participants showed significant improvements in cognitive function (p < 0.05) and trait mindfulness (p < 0.05) after completing the intervention. Between program intervention and one-year follow-up (59 weeks), positive correlations were found between their cognitive function (p < 0.05) and everyday activities functioning (p < 0.05) with the duration of mindfulness meditation; and between trait mindfulness and the level of informal mindfulness practice (p < 0.05). Those who meditated more during these 59 weeks, showed greater improvements in cognitive function (p < 0.05) and everyday activities functioning (p < 0.05), with large effect sizes at the one-year follow-up. Qualitative findings will be reported separately.

Conclusion:

Long-term mindfulness practice may be associated with cognitive and functional improvements for older adults with MCI. Mindfulness training could be a potential efficacious non-pharmacological therapeutic intervention for MCI.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6159696/

Reduce Falls in the Elderly with Tai Chi Practice

Reduce Falls in the Elderly with Tai Chi Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

The process of aging affects every aspect of the physical and cognitive domains. Every system in the body deteriorates including motor function with a decline in strength, flexibility, and balance. Impaired balance is a particular problem as it can lead to falls. In the U.S. one third of people over 65 fall each year and 2.5 million are treated in emergency rooms for injuries produced by falls. About 1% of falls result in deaths making it the leading cause of death due to injury among the elderly.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

It is important to recognize that Tai Chi is a gentle and safe exercise that is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion, such as stroke recovery. Also, Tai Chi is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can be practiced in social groups. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. So, Tai Chi practice would appear to be an almost ideal gentle exercise to prevent falls in the elderly and improve their physical and cognitive health and well-being.

 

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

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Key Points

Question

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

Findings

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

Meaning

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

Question

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

Findings

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

Meaning

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

Question

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

Findings

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

Meaning

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

 

Abstract

Importance

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

Objective

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

Design, Setting, and Participants

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

Interventions

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

Main Outcomes and Measures

The primary measure at 6 months was incidence of falls.

Results

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

Conclusions and Relevance

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

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

 

Improve Health with Qigong

Improve Health with Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

So, improve health with Qigong.

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Abstract

Purpose

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

Methods

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

Results

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

Conclusion

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

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

 

Improve the Physical and Psychological State of the Elderly with Qigong Exercise

Improve the Physical and Psychological State of the Elderly with Qigong Exercise

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Qi Gong is an excellent form of exercise for Seniors because of its gentle and soothing nature, anyone can do Qi Gong, regardless of age, ability, flexibility, or activity level! It is also significantly effective in improving balance, relieving pain, encouraging mobility and reducing stress.” – Exercise to heal

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities (cognition) which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. An encouraging new development is that mindfulness practices such as meditation training 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.

 

Qigong is gentle and safe mindfulness practice. It is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. It is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can be practiced in social groups. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. So, Qigong practice would appear to be an almost ideal gentle mindfulness training and light exercise to improve physical and psychological health in aging individuals.

 

In today’s Research News article “Acute Physiological and Psychological Effects of Qigong Exercise in Older Practitioners.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5902057/ ), Lin and colleagues recruited practitioners of Chinese Bioenergy Qigong who were between the ages of 50 to 70 years. They were measured before and after a Qigong practice session for skin conduction, heart rate, anxiety, and overall health.

 

They found that after the single Qigong practice session there was a significant increase in skin conductance and heart rate and a significant decrease in anxiety. This suggests that there was an improvement in cardiovascular function and the practitioners psychological state after a single session of Qigong practice.

 

This study was a simple pre post comparison of the physical and psychological state of aging experienced practitioners after a single Qigong practice session. As such conclusions are severely limited. But, they do provide a glimpse at the short-term effects of Qigong practice that may underlie its long-term effectiveness. Indeed, the observed acute effects are in line with those observed over the long term, with Qigong practice improving cardiovascular function and the psychological state after practicing over a number of months. These effects are particularly important for the health and well-being of aging populations.

 

So, improve the physical and psychological state of the elderly with Qigong exercise.

 

qigong exercise helps the body to heal itself. In this sense, qigong is a natural anti-aging medicine.” – Qigong Institute

 

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

 

Lin, C. Y., Wei, T. T., Wang, C. C., Chen, W. C., Wang, Y. M., & Tsai, S. Y. (2018). Acute Physiological and Psychological Effects of Qigong Exercise in Older Practitioners. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2018, 4960978. doi:10.1155/2018/4960978

 

Abstract

Qigong is a gentle exercise that promotes health and well-being. This study evaluated the acute physiological and psychological effects of one session of qigong exercise in older practitioners. A total of 45 participants (mean age, 65.14 years) were recruited. Meridian electrical conductance, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), heart rate variability (HRV), and Short Form 36 (SF-36) were evaluated and compared before and after one session of qigong exercise. The results revealed that the electrical conductance of all meridians, except spleen and bladder meridians, increased significantly (p < 0.05). Compared with baseline values, upper to lower body ratio and sympathetic/vagal index were significantly improved and closer to 1 (p = 0.011 and p = 0.007, resp.). STAI-S and STAI-T scores decreased significantly (p < 0.001 and p = 0.001, resp.). The RR interval of HRV decreased significantly (p = 0.035), a significant positive correlation was observed between kidney meridian electrical conductance and SF-36 physical scores (r = 0.74, p = 0.018), and a positive correlation was observed between pericardium meridian electrical conductance and SF-36 mental scores (r = 0.50, p = 0.06). In conclusion, one session of qigong exercise increased meridian electrical conductance, reduced anxiety, and improved body and autonomic nervous system balance. These findings provide scientific evidence for acute physiological and psychological effects of qigong exercise in older practitioners.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5902057/

 

Improve Cognition and Reduce Age-related Cognitive Decline with Meditation

Improve Cognition and Reduce Age-related Cognitive Decline 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

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities (cognition) which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. An encouraging new development is that mindfulness practices such as meditation training 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 and yoga have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners.

 

Most studies of age-related decline are cross-sectional, comparing groups of different ages. In today’s Research News article “Cognitive Aging and Long-Term Maintenance of Attentional Improvements Following Meditation Training.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41465-018-0068-1 ), Zanesco and colleagues perform a longitudinal analysis, following participants for up to 7 years to investigate the effects of a meditation retreat on cognitive ability.

 

They recruited experienced meditators and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive a 3-month intensive meditation retreat. After completion of the first retreat, the wait-list control participants received the 3-month meditation retreat. All participants were measured before, during, and after the retreat and 6 months, and 1.5 and 7 years later with a response inhibition task. In this task, participants were asked to respond when a long line is present and not respond when an infrequent short line was presented. This task measures high level thinking including attention, response inhibition, discrimination, and vigilance.

 

They found that during and following the retreat there were large significant improvements in perceptual discrimination, response inhibition, vigilance, and response time variance as measured in the response inhibition task. Importantly, these improvements were maintained for as much as 7 years after the completion of the retreat. Overall, older participants had age-related declines in accuracy. But, older participants who reported large amounts of continued meditation practice, did not have declines.

 

This study documents that the effects of a 3-month intensive meditation retreat on cognitive ability are large and lasting. In addition, they demonstrate that age-related declines in cognitive performance can be prevented by continued meditation practice. In this study, these effects were observed longitudinally, in the same individuals over time, supplementing the previous findings with cross-sectional studies of groups of individuals of different ages. This suggests that the loss of high-level thought ability does not necessarily inevitably have to decline as we age. It can be improved and sustained with meditation practice.

 

So, improve cognition and reduce age-related cognitive decline with meditation.

 

“What we do know is that long-term engagement in mindfulness meditation may enhance cognitive performance in older adults, and that with persistent practice, these benefits may be sustained. That’s great news for the millions of aging adults working to combat the negative effects of aging on the brain.” – B. grace Bullock

 

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

 

Zanesco, A.P., King, B.G., MacLean, K.A. et al. Cognitive Aging and Long-Term Maintenance of Attentional Improvements Following Meditation Training. J Cogn Enhanc (2018) 2: 259. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41465-018-0068-1

 

Abstract

Sustained attention is effortful, demanding, and subject to limitations associated with age-related cognitive decline. Researchers have sought to examine whether attentional capacities can be enhanced through directed mental training, with a number of studies now offering evidence that meditation practice may facilitate generalized improvements in this domain. However, the extent to which attentional gains are maintained following periods of dedicated meditation training and how such improvements are moderated by processes of aging have yet to be characterized. In a prior report (Sahdra et al., Emotion 11, 299–312, 2011), we examined attentional performance on a sustained response inhibition task before, during, and after 3-months of full-time meditation. We now extend this prior investigation across additional follow-up assessments occurring up to 7 years after the conclusion of training. Performance improvements observed during periods of intensive practice were partially maintained several years later. Importantly, aging-related decrements in measures of response inhibition accuracy and reaction time variability were moderated by levels of continued meditation practice across the follow-up period. The present study is the first to offer evidence that intensive and continued meditation practice is associated with enduring improvements in sustained attention and response inhibition, with the potential to alter longitudinal trajectories of cognitive change across the lifespan.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41465-018-0068-1

 

Improve the Well-Being of Dementia Patients and Their Caregivers with Mindfulness

Improve the Well-Being of Dementia Patients and Their Caregivers with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“people who care for family members with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in the home experienced a decrease in perceived stress and mood disturbance when practicing Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Another trial indicates that MBSR was “more effective at improving overall mental health, reducing stress, and decreasing depression” than those who only participated in a caregiver education and support intervention.” – Heather Stang

 

Dementia is a progressive loss of mental function produced by degenerative diseases of the brain. Dementia patients require caregiving particularly in the later stages of the disease. Caregiving for dementia patients is a daunting intense experience that can go on for four to eight years with increasing responsibilities as the loved one deteriorates. This places tremendous psychological and financial stress on the caregiver. Hence, there is a need to both care for the dementia patients and also for the caregivers. Mindfulness practice for caregivers has been shown to help them cope with the physical and psychological demands of caregiving. In addition, mindfulness training has been found to help protect aging individuals from physical and cognitive declines.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Training for People With Dementia and Their Caregivers: Rationale, Current Research, and Future Directions.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6008507/ ), Berk and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effectiveness of mindfulness training for both the patients with dementia and their caregivers.

 

They found that the literature reports that mindfulness training can help patients with mild cognitive decline by improving memory. They also report that mindfulness training improves the quality of life and depression in dementia patients and their caregivers when they are trained in mindfulness together. They further found that the research reports that mindfulness training helps the caregivers for the dementia patient by lowering perceived stress levels and depression and improving their quality of life. Hence, it appears that mindfulness training improves the well-being of both dementia patients and their caregivers.

 

These results fit with previous findings that mindfulness training in general improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress, depression, cognitive function, and quality of life in a wide variety of patients and healthy individuals of all ages. The results further suggests that training the dementia patient and their caregiver together is feasible and may have additional benefits for both.

 

So, improve the well-being of dementia patients and their caregivers with mindfulness.

 

“The disease is challenging for the affected person, family members, and caregivers. Although they know things will likely get worse, they can learn to focus on the present, deriving enjoyment in the moment with acceptance and without excessive worry about the future. This is what was taught in the mindfulness program.” – Ken Paller

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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Study Summary

 

Berk, L., Warmenhoven, F., van Os, J., & van Boxtel, M. (2018). Mindfulness Training for People With Dementia and Their Caregivers: Rationale, Current Research, and Future Directions. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 982. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00982

 

Abstract

The world population is aging and the prevalence of dementia is increasing. By 2050, those aged 60 years and older are expected to make up a quarter of the population. With that, the number of people with dementia is increasing. Unfortunately, there is no cure for dementia. The progression of symptoms with no hope of improvement is difficult to cope with, both for patients and their caregivers. New and evidence-based strategies are needed to support the well-being of both caregiver and patient. Mindfulness training is a body-mind intervention that has shown to improve psychological well-being in a variety of mental health conditions. Mindfulness, a non-judgmental attention to one’s experience in the present moment, is a skill that can be developed with a standard 8-week training. Research has shown preliminary but promising results for mindfulness-based interventions to benefit people with dementia and caregivers. The aim of this review is (a) to provide a rationale for the application of mindfulness in the context of dementia care by giving an overview of studies on mindfulness for people with dementia and/or their caregivers and (b) to provide suggestions for future projects on mindfulness in the context of dementia and to give recommendations for future research.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6008507/

 

Reduce Fear of Falling in the Elderly with Yoga

Reduce Fear of Falling in the Elderly with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga makes you have a strong core, so when moving around in your daily life, you are not just flapping around. You are stable, in control.” – Anne Bachner

 

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. Yoga practice helps to develop strength, flexibility, and balance. It would seem likely, then, that practicing yoga would reduce the likelihood of falling by the elderly.

 

In today’s Research News article “A mixed methods evaluation of yoga as a fall prevention strategy for older people in India.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5928579/ ), Keay and colleagues recruited elderly participants (> 60 years of age) and provided them with 2 1-hour yoga classes per week for 3 months. The program emphasized standing poses that develop balance. The participants were measured before and after training for overall health, body size, fear of falling, history of falls, physical performance, and blood pressure. At the end of training the participants also attended focus groups with discussion focused on “perceptions of the yoga program, perceived benefits of yoga and understanding fall injury/reporting falls.”

 

They found that there were no adverse events and no falls reported during the program. After the 3-month yoga program the elderly participants were significantly faster in the sit-stand test, had increased stride length while walking, and significantly lower body weight and fear of falling. Hence, participation in a yoga program improved the physical abilities of the elderly. It should be noted that there wasn’t a control or comparison condition so conclusions should be reached cautiously.

 

The results suggest that practicing yoga is beneficial for elderly men and women. These results are sufficiently encouraging to support conducting a large randomized controlled trial. The participants in the present study were quite healthy at the beginning of the trail, so ceiling effects may have prevented the detection of further benefits. Indeed, the participants all successfully passed the most difficult balance test during the baseline test, leaving no room for improvement, In a future trial, it would be good to include participants whose health and physical abilities weren’t quite as good. Regardless, the results suggest that yoga practice is beneficial for the elderly.

 

So, reduce fear of falling in the elderly with yoga.

 

“the number of falls in older adults declined 48 percent in the six months after they began attending yoga classes compared to the six months prior.” – Breann Schossow

 

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

 

Keay, L., Praveen, D., Salam, A., Rajasekhar, K. V., Tiedemann, A., Thomas, V., … Ivers, R. Q. (2018). A mixed methods evaluation of yoga as a fall prevention strategy for older people in India. Pilot and Feasibility Studies, 4, 74. http://doi.org/10.1186/s40814-018-0264-x

 

Abstract

Background

Falls are an emerging public health issue in India, with the impact set to rise as the population ages. We sought to evaluate the acceptability, feasibility and likely impact of a yoga-based program aimed at improving balance and mobility for older residents in urban India.

Methods

Fifty local residents aged 60 years and older were recruited from urban Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. They were invited to attend a 1-h yoga class, twice weekly for 3 months. Mixed methods were used to evaluate the acceptability and feasibility (qualitative) and likely impact (quantitative). Two focus groups and eight interviews with participants were conducted to evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of a yoga program. Thematic analysis was conducted in context of perceptions, barriers and benefits of yoga participation and fall ascertainment. Physical performance using the Short Physical Performance Battery, fear of falling, blood pressure and weight loss were measured before and after the program.

Results

The interviews and focus groups provided insights into the preferred format for classes, including session times, level of supervision and location. Improvements were seen in the Short Falls Efficacy Scale-International (Short FES-I (15.9 ± 4.0 vs 13.8 ± 2.1 s, p = 0.002)), the number of steps taken in the timed 4-m walk (T4MW (9.0 ± 1.8 vs 8.6 ± 1.8, p = 0.04)), Short FES-I scores (9.4 ± 2.9 vs 8.6 ± 2.9, p = 0.02) and weight (63.8 ± 12.4 vs 62.1 ± 11.6, p = 0.004) were lower. No changes were seen in standing balance, blood pressure or T4MW time.

Conclusion

Yoga was well accepted and resulted in improved ability to rise from a chair, weight loss, increased step length and reduced fear of falling. These results provide impetus for further research evaluating yoga as a fall prevention strategy in India.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5928579/

 

Improve Brain Metabolism and Muscle Energetics in Older Adults with Tai Chi

Improve Brain Metabolism and Muscle Energetics in Older Adults with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

”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.”  – Fiona McPherson

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. Using modern neuroimaging techniques, scientists have been able to view the changes that occur in the nervous system with aging. In addition, they have been able to investigate various techniques that might slow the process of neurodegeneration that accompanies normal aging. They’ve found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditation and yoga have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners.

 

Tai Chi 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. Because it is not strenuous, involving slow gentle movements, and is safe, having no appreciable side effects, it is appropriate for an elderly population. Indeed, Tai Chi and Qigong have been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging and to increase brain matter in the elderly.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi Improves Brain Metabolism and Muscle Energetics in Older Adults.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6055800/ ), Zhou and colleagues recruited healthy older people (>55 years of age) and trained them in Tai Chi practice with a one hour, twice a week, for 12 weeks instruction. They were measured before and after training for leg strength while having their brains scanned for metabolites with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). N‐acetylaspartate (NAA) is a neuronal marker of neuronal health. They also measured the rate of recovery of phosphocreatine (PCr) in the leg following exercise, a marker of muscular fitness.

 

They found that after training there was a significant increase in N‐acetylaspartate (NAA). NAA is a marker of the number of neurons present in the brain. Hence it’s increase in this study suggests that Tai Chi training increases the number of brain cells in the elderly. This further suggests that Tai Chi training is neuroprotective and may reduce the degeneration of the brain that occurs in normal aging.

 

They also found that after training there was a significant decrease in the rate of recovery of phosphocreatine (PCr) in the leg following exercise. A PCr decrease indicates that the capacity of muscles to use oxygen has increased. This, then, is a measure of muscular fitness. Hence it’s decrease in this study suggests that Tai Chi training improves exercise fitness in older adults helping to counter the age related decline in strength.

 

These results suggest the biochemical mechanisms that may underlie the ability of Tai Chi training to slow or delay physical and mental decline and to increase brain matter. These results not only further support the benefits of Tai Chi training for aging adults but also indicate how this training may change the chemistry of the brain and muscles to counter the effects of aging.

 

So, improve brain metabolism and muscle energetics in older adults with Tai Chi.

 

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

 

“Studies have shown that the incorporation of Tai Chi to an elders’ exercise program can be beneficial. Tai Chi practice was “beneficial to improve the balance control ability and flexibility of older adults, which may be the reason of preventing falls.” – Eric Edelman

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi Improves Brain Metabolism and Muscle Energetics in

Study Summary

 

Zhou, M., Liao, H., Sreepada, L. P., Ladner, J. R., Balschi, J. A., & Lin, A. P. (2018). Tai Chi Improves Brain Metabolism and Muscle Energetics in Older Adults. Journal of Neuroimaging, 28(4), 359–364. http://doi.org/10.1111/jon.12515

 

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

Tai Chi is a mind‐body exercise that has been shown to improve both mental and physical health. As a result, recent literature suggests the use of Tai Chi to treat both physical and psychological disorders. However, the underlying physiological changes have not been characterized. The aim of this pilot study is to assess the changes in brain metabolites and muscle energetics after Tai Chi training in an aging population using a combined brain‐muscle magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) examination.

METHODS

Six healthy older adults were prospectively recruited and enrolled into a 12‐week Tai Chi program. A brain 1H MRS and a muscle 31P MRS were scanned before and after the training, and postprocessed to measure N‐acetylaspartate to creatine (NAA/Cr) ratios and phosphocreatine (PCr) recovery time. Wilcoxon‐signed rank tests were utilized to assess the differences between pre‐ and post‐Tai Chi training.

RESULTS

A significant within‐subject increase in both the NAA/Cr ratios (P = .046) and the PCr recovery time (P =.046) was observed between the baseline and the posttraining scans. The median percentage changes were 5.38% and 16.51% for NAA/Cr and PCr recovery time, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

Our pilot study demonstrates significant increase of NAA/Cr ratios in posterior cingulate gyrus and significantly improved PCr recovery time in leg muscles in older adults following short‐term Tai Chi training, and thus provides insight into the beneficial mechanisms.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6055800/

 

Slow Aging with Meditation

Slow Aging with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“What we do know is that long-term engagement in mindfulness meditation may enhance cognitive performance in older adults, and that with persistent practice, these benefits may be sustained. That’s great news for the millions of aging adults working to combat the negative effects of aging on the brain.” – B. Grace Bullock

 

Human life is one of constant change. We revel in our increases in physical and mental capacities during development but regret their decreases during aging. The aging process, starting in the 20s involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. There is interest in finding ways to slow the aging process to improve longevity and health and mindfulness training has been found to do just that.

 

DNA methylation is an epigenetic mechanism used by cells to control gene expression. Epigenetic effects on the DNA arise from the environment and not the genes themselves. DNA methylation can fix genes in the “off” position, preventing them from carrying out their normal function. Indeed, the amount of methylation of DNA is associated with disease and aging. The greater the amount of methylation in the DNA the more disease. It can be thought of as a cellular marker of aging. It is sometimes considered as an epigenetic clock, the greater the age, the more methylation. It is possible that meditation practice slows the aging process by decreasing methylation in the DNA.

 

In today’s Research News article “Epigenetic clock analysis in long-term meditators.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5863232/ ), Chaix and colleagues obtained blood samples from meditation naïve individuals and long-term (> 3 years) meditators. The samples were assayed for methylation in the DNA and this was used to calculate the intrinsic epigenetic age of the individual (the age predicted by the degree of DNA methylation).

 

They found, as expected, that the greater the amount of methylation of the DNA the greater the actual calendar age of the participant for both groups. In the meditation naïve participants those over 52 years of age had significantly higher intrinsic epigenetic ages than those under 52. This is as expected. On the other hand, the long-term meditators over 52 years of age had equivalent intrinsic epigenetic ages to those under 52. The longer the meditators had been practicing the greater the reduction in their intrinsic epigenetic age. It was reduced by 0.24 years for each year of meditation practice.

 

These results suggest a possible mechanism by which meditation practice may slow the aging process. They suggest that meditation practice reduces the methylation in the DNA and perhaps, thereby, helps maintain the DNA’s functional integrity into higher ages. Stress is known to increase DNA methylation. So, it is possible that mindfulness practices reduce methylation in the DNA by reducing the physiological and psychological effects of stress. Regardless, the results suggest that meditation practice slows the changes in the individual’s genetic material that’s associated with aging.

 

So, slow aging with meditation.

 

“According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 20 million Americans practice some form of meditation to achieve greater peace of mind and enhanced sense of well-being. Now studies of the neurological differences between meditators and non-meditators, and studies of immune cell aging via telomere length in meditators and non-meditators, show that meditation can also affect the way we age.” – Seth Segall

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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Study Summary

 

Chaix, R., Alvarez-López, M. J., Fagny, M., Lemee, L., Regnault, B., Davidson, R. J., … Kaliman, P. (2017). Epigenetic clock analysis in long-term meditators. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 85, 210–214. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.08.016

 

Abstract

In this paper, we examined whether meditation practice influences the epigenetic clock, a strong and reproducible biomarker of biological aging, which is accelerated by cumulative lifetime stress and with age-related chronic diseases. Using the Illumina 450 K array platform, we analyzed the DNA methylome from blood cells of long-term meditators and meditation-naïve controls to estimate their Intrinsic Epigenetic Age Acceleration (IEAA), using Horvath’s calculator. IEAA was similar in both groups. However, controls showed a different IEAA trajectory with aging than meditators: older controls (age ≥ 52) had significantly higher IEAAs compared with younger controls (age < 52), while meditators were protected from this epigenetic aging effect. Notably, in the meditation group, we found a significant negative correlation between IEAA and the number of years of regular meditation practice. From our results, we hypothesize that the cumulative effects of a regular meditation practice may, in the long-term, help to slow the epigenetic clock and could represent a useful preventive strategy for age-related chronic diseases. Longitudinal randomized controlled trials in larger cohorts are warranted to confirm and further characterize these findings.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5863232/