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/

 

Reduce Inflammation in Mildly Cognitive Impaired Elderly with Mindfulness

Reduce Inflammation in Mildly Cognitive Impaired Elderly with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness practice was not directly linked to lower inflammation levels, but may have bolstered stress resilience among at-risk adults by preventing an increase in inflammatory biomarker levels.” – Grace Bullock

 

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

 

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

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness improves inflammatory biomarker levels in older adults with mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7026149/), Ng and colleagues recruited elderly (> 60 years of age) who had mild cognitive impairment but not dementia and randomly assigned them to receive once a week for 1 hour for 12 weeks of either health education or mindfulness awareness practice. For the next 6 months they received monthly booster sessions. The mindfulness awareness practice was based upon the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program adapted for the elderly. The participants were also instructed to practice daily at home. Before and after training and 6 months later the participants contributed blood samples that were assayed for inflammatory biomarkers of high-sensitivity (hs)-CRP, BDNF, and DHEA-S. They also contributed salivary samples that were assayed for the inflammatory biomarkers of cortisol, IL-1β, and IL-6.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the health education group, the elderly participants who received mindfulness training had significantly lower blood levels of high-sensitivity (hs)-CRP at the end of training and 6 months later. This effect was particularly strong in female participants. Male participants had significantly reduced IL-6 and IL-1β levels at the end of training.

 

These findings are potentially very important. high-sensitivity (hs)-CRP has been associated with the onset of dementia. Hence, mindfulness training may significantly reduce this risk factor for dementia. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve the symptoms of dementia. The present findings suggest that mindfulness training may work to improve dementia by lowering high-sensitivity (hs)-CRP. It remains for future research to investigate this tantalizing prospect.

 

The results suggest that mindfulness training reduce biomarkers of inflammation in the elderly with mild cognitive impairment. Inflammation is characteristic of dementia. The results suggest that mindfulness training may reduce the likelihood that mild cognitive impairment develops into full-fledged dementia by reducing inflammation in the elderly. Regardless, the reduction in inflammation would be predicted to improve the overall health and longevity of the elderly.

 

So, reduce inflammation in mildly cognitive impaired elderly with mindfulness.

 

Meditation is associated with many psychological and physical benefits. “In general, it’s been shown to decrease blood pressure and inflammation.” – Heidi Goldman

 

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

 

Ng, T., Fam, J., Feng, L., Cheah, I. K., Tan, C. T., Nur, F., Wee, S. T., Goh, L. G., Chow, W. L., Ho, R. C., Kua, E. H., Larbi, A., & Mahendran, R. (2020). Mindfulness improves inflammatory biomarker levels in older adults with mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial. Translational psychiatry, 10(1), 21. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-0696-y

 

Abstract

Few randomized controlled trials investigated the effects of mindfulness intervention on older adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Furthermore, there have been hypotheses and theoretical mechanisms on the benefits of mindfulness intervention on biomarkers of stress, inflammation, and neuroplasticity implicated in MCI that warrant empirical evidence. We conducted a pilot randomized controlled trial to examine whether Mindful Awareness Practice (MAP) improved biomarker levels in older adults with MCI. Fifty-five community-dwelling older adults aged 60 and above were randomized into either the treatment arm, MAP, or the active control arm, the health education program (HEP). Researchers who were blinded to treatment allocation assessed the outcomes at baseline, 3-month, and 9-month follow-ups. Linear-mixed models were used to examine the effect of MAP on biomarker levels. MAP participants had significantly decreased high-sensitivity c-reactive protein (hs-CRP) levels at 9-month (β = −0.307, 95% CI = −0.559 to −0.054 P = 0.018). Exploratory sub-group analyses by sex showed significantly decreased hs-CRP in females only (β = −0.445, 95% CI = −0.700 to −0.189, P = 0.001), while stratification by MCI subtype showed hs-CRP decreased only in amnestic-MCI (aMCI) (β = −0.569, 95% CI = −1.000 to −0.133, P = 0.012). Although total sample analyses were not significant, males had significantly decreased interleukin (IL)−6 (β = −1.001, 95% CI = −1.761 to −0253, P = 0.011) and IL-1β (β = −0.607, 95% CI = −1.116 to −0.100, P = 0.021) levels at 3-month and non-significant improvements at 9-month time-point. MAP improved inflammatory biomarkers in sex- and MCI subtype-specific manners. These preliminary findings suggest the potential of mindfulness intervention as a self-directed and low-cost preventive intervention in improving pathophysiology implicated in MCI.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7026149/

 

Reduce Falls in the Elderly with Exercise and Tai Chi

Reduce Falls in the Elderly with Exercise and Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

With regular practice, tai chi improves balance by strengthening muscles and co-ordination; at the same time, it strengthens the mind, thereby improving calmness and confidence in not falling. Thus, both physically and mentally, tai chi is an extremely effective exercise for fall prevention. A great bonus, at the same time, tai chi also improves almost all aspects of health!” – Paul Lam

 

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, how effective  Tai Chi training is in preventing falls relative to other exercises. The evidence is accumulating. So, it is important to review and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Exercise for preventing falls in older people living in the community.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6360922/), Sherrington and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the relative effectiveness of various exercises, including Tai Chi in improving balance and reducing falls in the elderly. They identified 108 randomized controlled trials including a total of 23,407 participants averaging 77 years of age employing any form of exercise and measuring falls before and after treatment.

 

They report that the published research found that all forms of exercise combined significantly reduced falls by 23% and reduced the number of people experiencing falls by 15% with larger effects when the program was delivered by a health care professional. With respect to specific forms of exercise they found that balance and functional exercises significantly reduced falls by 24% and reduced the number of people experiencing falls by 13% while Tai Chi significantly reduced falls by 19% and reduced the number of people experiencing falls by 20%. There were too few studies with mixed resultsmof other forms of exercise such as walking, dance, strength exercises to evaluate their effectiveness.

 

These findings support the use of exercise to reduce falls in the elderly including the use of Tai Chi. 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 reduce falls in elderly individuals.

 

So, reduce falls in the elderly with exercise and Tai Chi.

 

based on current available evidence, suggest that Tai Chi exercise is an effective intervention to prevent the risk of falls among older adults.” – Yu-Ning Hu

 

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

 

Sherrington, C., Fairhall, N. J., Wallbank, G. K., Tiedemann, A., Michaleff, Z. A., Howard, K., Clemson, L., Hopewell, S., & Lamb, S. E. (2019). Exercise for preventing falls in older people living in the community. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 1(1), CD012424. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD012424.pub2

 

Abstract

Background

At least one‐third of community‐dwelling people over 65 years of age fall each year. Exercises that target balance, gait and muscle strength have been found to prevent falls in these people. An up‐to‐date synthesis of the evidence is important given the major long‐term consequences associated with falls and fall‐related injuries

Objectives

To assess the effects (benefits and harms) of exercise interventions for preventing falls in older people living in the community.

Search methods

We searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, three other databases and two trial registers up to 2 May 2018, together with reference checking and contact with study authors to identify additional studies.

Selection criteria

We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating the effects of any form of exercise as a single intervention on falls in people aged 60+ years living in the community. We excluded trials focused on particular conditions, such as stroke.

Data collection and analysis

We used standard methodological procedures expected by Cochrane. Our primary outcome was rate of falls.

Main results

We included 108 RCTs with 23,407 participants living in the community in 25 countries. There were nine cluster‐RCTs. On average, participants were 76 years old and 77% were women. Most trials had unclear or high risk of bias for one or more items. Results from four trials focusing on people who had been recently discharged from hospital and from comparisons of different exercises are not described here.

Exercise (all types) versus control

Eighty‐one trials (19,684 participants) compared exercise (all types) with control intervention (one not thought to reduce falls). Exercise reduces the rate of falls by 23% (rate ratio (RaR) 0.77, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.71 to 0.83; 12,981 participants, 59 studies; high‐certainty evidence). Based on an illustrative risk of 850 falls in 1000 people followed over one year (data based on control group risk data from the 59 studies), this equates to 195 (95% CI 144 to 246) fewer falls in the exercise group. Exercise also reduces the number of people experiencing one or more falls by 15% (risk ratio (RR) 0.85, 95% CI 0.81 to 0.89; 13,518 participants, 63 studies; high‐certainty evidence). Based on an illustrative risk of 480 fallers in 1000 people followed over one year (data based on control group risk data from the 63 studies), this equates to 72 (95% CI 52 to 91) fewer fallers in the exercise group. Subgroup analyses showed no evidence of a difference in effect on both falls outcomes according to whether trials selected participants at increased risk of falling or not.

The findings for other outcomes are less certain, reflecting in part the relatively low number of studies and participants. Exercise may reduce the number of people experiencing one or more fall‐related fractures (RR 0.73, 95% CI 0.56 to 0.95; 4047 participants, 10 studies; low‐certainty evidence) and the number of people experiencing one or more falls requiring medical attention (RR 0.61, 95% CI 0.47 to 0.79; 1019 participants, 5 studies; low‐certainty evidence). The effect of exercise on the number of people who experience one or more falls requiring hospital admission is unclear (RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.51 to 1.18; 1705 participants, 2 studies, very low‐certainty evidence). Exercise may make little important difference to health‐related quality of life: conversion of the pooled result (standardised mean difference (SMD) ‐0.03, 95% CI ‐0.10 to 0.04; 3172 participants, 15 studies; low‐certainty evidence) to the EQ‐5D and SF‐36 scores showed the respective 95% CIs were much smaller than minimally important differences for both scales.

Adverse events were reported to some degree in 27 trials (6019 participants) but were monitored closely in both exercise and control groups in only one trial. Fourteen trials reported no adverse events. Aside from two serious adverse events (one pelvic stress fracture and one inguinal hernia surgery) reported in one trial, the remainder were non‐serious adverse events, primarily of a musculoskeletal nature. There was a median of three events (range 1 to 26) in the exercise groups.

Different exercise types versus control

Different forms of exercise had different impacts on falls (test for subgroup differences, rate of falls: P = 0.004, I² = 71%). Compared with control, balance and functional exercises reduce the rate of falls by 24% (RaR 0.76, 95% CI 0.70 to 0.81; 7920 participants, 39 studies; high‐certainty evidence) and the number of people experiencing one or more falls by 13% (RR 0.87, 95% CI 0.82 to 0.91; 8288 participants, 37 studies; high‐certainty evidence). Multiple types of exercise (most commonly balance and functional exercises plus resistance exercises) probably reduce the rate of falls by 34% (RaR 0.66, 95% CI 0.50 to 0.88; 1374 participants, 11 studies; moderate‐certainty evidence) and the number of people experiencing one or more falls by 22% (RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.64 to 0.96; 1623 participants, 17 studies; moderate‐certainty evidence). Tai Chi may reduce the rate of falls by 19% (RaR 0.81, 95% CI 0.67 to 0.99; 2655 participants, 7 studies; low‐certainty evidence) as well as reducing the number of people who experience falls by 20% (RR 0.80, 95% CI 0.70 to 0.91; 2677 participants, 8 studies; high‐certainty evidence). We are uncertain of the effects of programmes that are primarily resistance training, or dance or walking programmes on the rate of falls and the number of people who experience falls. No trials compared flexibility or endurance exercise versus control.

Authors’ conclusions

Exercise programmes reduce the rate of falls and the number of people experiencing falls in older people living in the community (high‐certainty evidence). The effects of such exercise programmes are uncertain for other non‐falls outcomes. Where reported, adverse events were predominantly non‐serious.

Exercise programmes that reduce falls primarily involve balance and functional exercises, while programmes that probably reduce falls include multiple exercise categories (typically balance and functional exercises plus resistance exercises). Tai Chi may also prevent falls but we are uncertain of the effect of resistance exercise (without balance and functional exercises), dance, or walking on the rate of falls.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6360922/

 

Improve Emotional Distress in The Elderly with Type 2 Diabetes with Mindfulness

Improve Emotional Distress in The Elderly with Type 2 Diabetes with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness based approaches has been found to be particularly effective in supporting diabetes management and the mental turmoil that is accompanied with a diagnosis of such as chronic physical illness. It can address the feelings of guilt, anger and aid self-acceptance to encourage the fulfilment of an unobstructed life. Mindfulness has also been found to have an enhanced clinical effect of glycemic control so not only aids psychological health but could potentially have a positive impact on the management of the physical condition.” – Diabetes UK

 

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

 

Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. One of the reasons for the increasing incidence of Type 2 Diabetes is its association with overweight and obesity which is becoming epidemic in the industrialized world. A leading cause of this is a sedentary life style. Current treatments for Type 2 Diabetes focus on diet, exercise, and weight control. Recently, mindfulness practices have been shown to be helpful in managing diabetes.

 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy technique that is employs many of the techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). ACT focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes. The problems resulting from diabetes get magnified in the elderly. So, it is important to study the efficacy of ACT for Type 2 Diabetes in the elderly.

 

In today’s Research News article “Efficacy of Acceptance And Commitment Therapy For Emotional Distress In The Elderly With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6802537/), Maghsoudi and colleagues recruited patients with Type 2 Diabetes over 60 years of age. They all continued on routine care while half were randomly selected to receive Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) in groups once a week for 90 minutes for 8 weeks. They were measured before and after training and 2 months later for diabetes-related emotional distress including the dimensions of emotional burden, physician-related distress, regimen-related distress and diabetes-related interpersonal distress.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the usual care group the patients who received Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) had significantly lower diabetes-related emotional distress. This lower diabetes-related emotional distress was maintained 2 months later. The study contained only a passive control condition, so caution must be exercised in interpreting the results. Nevertheless, ACT\ was a safe, effective, and lasting treatment to improve the emotions of elderly patients with Type 2 Diabetes.

 

So, improve emotional distress in the elderly with Type 2 Diabetes with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness training, including focused breathing and awareness training, helped U.S. veterans with diabetes significantly lower their diabetes-related distress and blood sugar levels and improve their self-management of the disease, researchers report.” – Science Daily

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Maghsoudi, Z., Razavi, Z., Razavi, M., & Javadi, M. (2019). Efficacy Of Acceptance And Commitment Therapy For Emotional Distress In The Elderly With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity : targets and therapy, 12, 2137–2143. doi:10.2147/DMSO.S221245

 

Abstract

Introduction

Diabetes is among the common diseases in the elderly which results in depression, anxiety, and emotional distress in the elderly and impacts the disease control by the individual. This study was conducted with the aim of exploring the effectiveness of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) in the improvement of emotional distress in the elderly with type 2 diabetes.

Materials and methods

In this randomized control trial, 80 elderly with type 2 diabetes aged ≥60 years were randomly selected among the individuals visiting Yazd Diabetes Research Center. Then, the patients were randomly divided into two 40 individual groups, ie, the intervention group and the control group. The intervention group underwent group ACT during eight 90-min sessions. The diabetes-related emotional distress questionnaire was completed before the intervention, after the end of the group sessions and 2 months after that. The statistical software SPSS version 21 was used for data analysis.

Results

The emotional mean scores in the intervention and control groups were not significantly different before the intervention. However, the mean score of the intervention group was lower than of the control group immediately after the intervention (p=0.02) and 2 months after the intervention (p=0.02).

Conclusion

ACT results in the improvement of diabetes-related emotional distress in the intervention group. Considering the effectiveness of ACT, this therapeutic method is recommended to be used for the amelioration of emotional distress in the elderly with type 2 diabetes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6802537/

 

Improve Health and Cognitive Ability in the Elderly with Tai Chi

Improve Health and Cognitive Ability in the Elderly with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Tai chi is a gentle exercise that helps seniors improve balance and prevent falls. Studies have found that tai chi also improves leg strength, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, immune system, sleep, happiness, sense of self-worth, and the ability to concentrate and multitask during cognitive tests.” – DailyCaring

 

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, and in emotion regulation. 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

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Tai Chi on Markers of Atherosclerosis, Lower-limb Physical Function, and Cognitive Ability in Adults Aged Over 60: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6427726/), Zhou and colleagues recruited healthy elderly (aged 60-79 years) who were not practicing Tai Chi or other mindful movement practices and randomly assigned them to engage in one of three different Tai Chi practices for 12 weeks. The practices contained either 24, 42, or 56 different movements. They attended 3 times weekly Tai Chi classes. For the first 6 weeks the classes were 60 minutes while for the second 6 weeks the classes were 90 minutes. They were measured at baseline and at 6 and 12-weeks of practice for resting heart rate and as markers of atherosclerosis resting ankle brachial index and ankle pulse wave velocity. They were also measured for cognitive ability and movement tests of chair rise, walking, balance, and up-and-go test.

 

They found that for both males and females all three Tai Chi practices produced significant improvements in health-related outcomes at 6 and 12 weeks including improvements in walking, balance, up-and-go test, and ankle brachial index. Compared to the 24-movement practice, the 42- and 56-movement practices produced significantly better results for walking and balance and the resting ankle brachial index indicator of atherosclerosis. There were no adverse events recorded.

 

These results have to be interpreted with caution as there wasn’t a control condition such as a different exercise and there was no long-term follow-up. Nevertheless, the results suggest that Tai Chi practices is safe and effective treatment to produce significant improvements in the elderly’s movements, balance, and atherosclerosis. The 24-movement practice appears to be inferior to Tai Chi practices containing a greater number of distinct movements. Supporting these findings is the fact that these improvements including improved balance, movement, cardiovascular performance have also been documented in prior research.

 

Tai Chi practice 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, they can also be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. All of these characteristics make Tai Chi practice an excellent practice to improvement the health of the elderly.

 

So, improve health and cognitive ability in the elderly with Tai Chi

 

Practicing Tai Chi regularly is known to enhance health and fitness. It can also help seniors with a better sense of balance and strength.” – MedicalAlert

 

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

                 

Zhou, S., Zhang, Y., Kong, Z., Loprinzi, P. D., Hu, Y., Ye, J., … Zou, L. (2019). The Effects of Tai Chi on Markers of Atherosclerosis, Lower-limb Physical Function, and Cognitive Ability in Adults Aged Over 60: A Randomized Controlled Trial. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(5), 753. doi:10.3390/ijerph16050753

 

Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of Tai Chi (TC) on arterial stiffness, physical function of lower-limb, and cognitive ability in adults aged over 60. Methods: This study was a prospective and randomized 12-week intervention trial with three repeated measurements (baseline, 6, and 12 weeks). Sixty healthy adults who met the inclusion criteria were randomly allocated into three training conditions (TC-24, TC-42, and TC-56) matched by gender, with 20 participants (10 males, 10 females) in each of the three groups. We measured the following health outcomes, including markers of atherosclerosis, physical function (leg power, and static and dynamic balance) of lower-limb, and cognitive ability. Results: When all three TC groups (p < 0.05) have showed significant improvements on these outcomes but overall cognitive ability at 6 or 12 weeks training period, TC-56 appears to have superior effects on arterial stiffness and static/dynamic balance in the present study. Conclusions: Study results of the present study add to growing body of evidence regarding therapeutic TC for health promotion and disease prevention in aging population. Future studies should further determine whether TC-42 and TC-56 are beneficial for other non-Chinese populations, with rigorous research design and follow-up assessment.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6427726/

 

Increase Telomere Length and Decrease Cellular Aging with Meditation

Increase Telomere Length and Decrease Cellular Aging with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

some forms of meditation may have salutary effects on telomere length by reducing cognitive stress and stress arousal and increasing positive states of mind and hormonal factors that may promote telomere maintenance.” – Elissa Epel

 

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. It has been found that the genes, coded on the DNA molecule, govern cellular processes in our bodies. One of the most fundamental of these processes is cell replication. Cells are constantly turning over. Dying cells or damaged are replaced by new cells. The cells turn over at different rates but most cells in the body are lost and replaced between every few days to every few months. Needless to say, we’re constantly renewing ourselves.

 

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. This has been called a “mitotic clock.” This is normal. But telomere shortening can also be produced by oxidative stress, which can be produced by psychological and physiological stress. This is mediated by stress hormones and the inflammatory response. So, chronic stress can accelerate the aging process. In other words, when we’re chronically stressed, we get older faster.

 

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. There is accumulating evidence, so it makes sense to stop and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Meditation and telomere length: a meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2019.1707827 ), Schutte and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis on the effects of meditation practice on cellular aging as reflected in telomere lengths. They identified 12 controlled published research studies.

 

They found that the published research demonstrated that meditation practices produce longer telomere lengths. The effect sizes were moderate and indicated that the meditation practitioners had telomeres about a half of a standard deviation longer then controls. They also report that the greater the number of hours of meditation practice the longer the telomeres, but this relationship was not significant in studies where there was a random assignment of participants to groups.

 

These are exciting findings that suggest that meditation practice can lead to greater telomere length. This in turn suggests that meditation would improve health and longevity. It is suspected that meditation has these benefits as the result of the ability of meditation practice to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress, where stress is known to have a shortening effect on the telomeres. Regardless of the mechanism, the accumulating research suggests that meditation can reduce cellular aging and thereby improve health and longevity.

 

Increase telomere length and decrease cellular aging with meditation.

 

meditation and the like, which people can use to reduce stress and increase wellbeing, would be having their salutary and well-documented useful effects in part through telomeres.” – Elizabeth Blackburn

 

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

 

Nicola S. Schutte, John M. Malouff & Shian-Ling Keng (2020): Meditation and telomere length: a meta-analysis, Psychology & Health, DOI: 10.1080/08870446.2019.1707827

 

ABSTRACT Objective: Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes. Short telomeres are a biomarker for worsening health and early death. Design: The present study consolidated research on meditation and telomere length through a meta-analysis of results of studies examining the effect of meditation on telomere length by comparing the telomere length of meditating participants with participants in control conditions. Results: A search of the literature identified 11 studies reporting 12 comparisons of meditating individuals with individuals in control conditions. An overall significant weighted effect size of g ¼.40 indicated that the individuals in meditation conditions had longer telomeres. When an outlier effect size was trimmed from the analysis, the effect size was smaller, g ¼.16. Across studies, a greater number of hours of meditation among participants in meditation conditions was associated with larger effect sizes. Conclusion: These findings provide tentative support for the hypothesis that participants in meditation conditions have longer telomeres than participants in comparison conditions, and that a greater number of hours of meditation is associated with a greater impact on telomere biology. The results of the meta-analysis have potential clinical significance in that they suggest that meditation-based interventions may prevent telomere attrition or increase telomere length.

https://doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2019.1707827