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

 

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/

 

Alter the Brain and Memory Consolidation During Sleep with Meditation

Alter the Brain and Memory Consolidation During Sleep with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

meditation. The deep relaxation technique has been shown to increase sleep time, improve sleep quality, and make it easier to fall (and stay) asleep.” – Sleep Foundation

 

We spend about a third of our lives in sleep, but we know very little about it. It is known that sleep is not a unitary phenomenon. Rather, it involves several different states that can be characterized by differences in physiological activation, neural activity, and subjective experiences. These changes can be recorded from the scalp with an electroencephalogram (EEG).

 

In the waking state the nervous system shows EEG activity that is termed low voltage fast activity. The electrical activity recorded from the scalp is rapidly changing but only with very small size waves. When sleep first occurs, the individual enters into a stage called slow-wave sleep, sometimes called non-REM sleep. The heart rate and blood pressure decline even further and the muscles become very soft and relaxed. In this state the EEG shows a characteristic waveform known as the theta rhythm, which is a large change in voltage recorded that oscillates at a rate of 4 to 8 cycles per second. As the individual goes even deeper into sleep something remarkable happens as the individual enters into rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep). Here the muscles become extremely inhibited and flaccid, but the eyes move rapidly under the closed eyelids as if the individual was looking around. At the same time the heart rate and blood pressure increase and become very variable and sometimes very high.

 

Sleep has also been shown to be involved in memory consolidation. “Sleep is thought to strengthen information learned during the day, to select which experiences are best remembered and which are best forgotten, and to assimilate new knowledge into existing autobiographical networks.” It has been shown that mindfulness training, including meditation practice, affects sleep and tends to improve sleep and reduce insomnia. It has also been shown to affect memory. But there is need to further investigate the effects of meditation practice, particularly long-term meditation practice, on brain activity during sleep and wakefulness and memory consolidation to begin to understand the mechanisms by which meditation practice affects memory, sleep, and wakefulness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Different Patterns of Sleep-Dependent Procedural Memory Consolidation in Vipassana Meditation Practitioners and Non-meditating Controls.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03014/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1232595_69_Psycho_20200204_arts_A), Solomonova and colleagues recruited healthy young adult (aged 18-35 years) practitioners of Vipassana meditation and matched non-meditators for an afternoon nap study. The participants were measured for body awareness. On one day they engaged in a 90-minute nap preceded by either a 10-minute meditation or a 10-minute relaxation period. During the nap their EEG was recorded. The participants reported on their dreams when awoken halfway into and at the end of the nap. Before and after the nap the participants engaged in a 5-minute session measuring balance with a Nintendo game “Balance Bubble.”

 

They found that the meditators had significantly greater body awareness than the non-meditators. In addition, for meditators only, the higher the body awareness the better the performance on the balance task. Hence meditation practice is associated with better awareness of the body which was in turn related to their balance.

 

There were no significant differences between the groups in improvement on the balance task after the nap or in sleep structure as assessed with the EEG during the nap. Interestingly, the greater the lifetime meditation practice, the less time spent in slow-wave (non-REM) sleep. For the meditation group but not the controls, the greater the density of slow-wave (non-REM) sleep spindles during the nap, the greater the improvement in the balance task. On the other hand, for the non-meditators the greater the time spent in REM sleep, the greater the improvement in the balance task.

 

These findings suggest that memory consolidation for a balance task over a nap occurred in concert with different sleep architecture for the meditators and non-meditators. This suggests the meditation practice produce neuroplastic changes in the brain that resulted in different memory consolidation mechanisms during sleep. These are complex changes that suggest different neural processing of information during sleep in meditators.

 

So, alter the brain and memory consolidation during sleep with meditation.

 

Given the many health concerns pertaining to sleep aid medication use in older adults,” he added, “mindfulness meditation appears to be a safe and sensible health promoting practice to improve sleep quality.” – David Black

 

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

 

Solomonova E, Dubé S, Blanchette-Carrière C, Sandra DA, Samson-Richer A, Carr M, Paquette T and Nielsen T (2020) Different Patterns of Sleep-Dependent Procedural Memory Consolidation in Vipassana Meditation Practitioners and Non-meditating Controls. Front. Psychol. 10:3014. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03014

 

Aim: Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, and sleep spindles are all implicated in the consolidation of procedural memories. Relative contributions of sleep stages and sleep spindles were previously shown to depend on individual differences in task processing. However, no studies to our knowledge have focused on individual differences in experience with Vipassana meditation as related to sleep. Vipassana meditation is a form of mental training that enhances proprioceptive and somatic awareness and alters attentional style. The goal of this study was to examine a potential role for Vipassana meditation experience in sleep-dependent procedural memory consolidation.

Methods: Groups of Vipassana meditation practitioners (N = 22) and matched meditation-naïve controls (N = 20) slept for a daytime nap in the laboratory. Before and after the nap they completed a procedural task on the Wii Fit balance platform.

Results: Meditators performed slightly better on the task before the nap, but the two groups improved similarly after sleep. The groups showed different patterns of sleep-dependent procedural memory consolidation: in meditators, task learning was positively correlated with density of slow occipital spindles, while in controls task improvement was positively associated with time in REM sleep. Sleep efficiency and sleep architecture did not differ between groups. Meditation practitioners, however, had a lower density of occipital slow sleep spindles than controls.

Conclusion: Results suggest that neuroplastic changes associated with meditation practice may alter overall sleep microarchitecture and reorganize sleep-dependent patterns of memory consolidation. The lower density of occipital spindles in meditators may mean that meditation practice compensates for some of the memory functions of sleep.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03014/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1232595_69_Psycho_20200204_arts_A

 

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/

 

Improve Quality of Life and Reduce Falls in Dementia Patients with Tai Chi

Improve Quality of Life and Reduce Falls in Dementia Patients with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related conditions is exploding in the United States. But while scientists struggle to find a new medical treatment, tai chi, the ancient Chinese martial art, has emerged as a potentially potent way to help stem the tide.” – David-Dorian Ross

 

Dementia is a progressive loss of mental function produced by degenerative diseases of the brain. These are progressive disorders with no cures. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It is estimated that 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. It involves an irreversible progressive loss of mental function associated with brain degeneration. The early stages are typified by memory loss but as the disease progresses patients can lose the ability to carry on a conversation or carry on normal life functions, and eventually leads to death.

 

Mindfulness training has been found to help protect aging individuals from physical and cognitive declines. Tai Chi has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevityTai Chi training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. Tai Chi practice has been found to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. Tai Chi has been shown to help the elderly improve attentionbalance, reducing fallsarthritiscognitive functionmemory, and reduce age related deterioration of the brain. So, it makes sense to investigate the effects of Tai Chi practice in patients with dementia.

 

In today’s Research News article “Randomised Controlled Trial Of The Effect Of Tai Chi On Postural Balance Of People With Dementia.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6875562/),Nyman and colleagues recruited community dwelling elderly (aged 78 to 97 years) adults with dementia and randomly assigned them to either usual care or usual care plus 20 weeks of once a week for 90 minutes Tai Chi practice and home practice. They were measured before and after training for dynamic balance, functional balance, falls, fall efficacy, fear of falls, quality of life, and cognitive function.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the usual care group, the Tai Chi group had a significantly greater quality of life and significantly fewer falls (44% fewer) during the 6-month follow-up period. There were no serious adverse events due to Tai Chi practice recorded.

 

Since Tai Chi is practiced in groups, the fact that it produced an increase in quality of life may have been due to the enhanced social contacts occurring in the course of practice. This can have quite an impact as community dwelling elderly, and particularly those with dementia, are often isolated from social contacts. The reduced falls has been previous documented in the elderly. The present study, though, documents this in dementia patients. This is very important as falls in the elderly are particularly dangerous and can be major contributors to mortality.

 

Tai Chi is not strenuous, involving slow gentle movements, and is safe, having no appreciable side effects, it is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. 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 the quality of life and prevent falls in elderly dementia patients.

 

So, improve quality of life and reduce falls in dementia patients with Tai Chi.

 

Researchers have shown that regular practice of Tai Chi increases brain volume, augments memory and thinking skills, and may combat dementia.” – Explore

 

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

 

Samuel R Nyman, Wendy Ingram, Jeanette Sanders, Peter W Thomas, Sarah Thomas, Michael Vassallo, James Raftery, Iram Bibi, Yolanda Barrado-Martín. Randomised Controlled Trial Of The Effect Of Tai Chi On Postural Balance Of People With Dementia. Clin Interv Aging. 2019; 14: 2017–2029. Published online 2019 Nov 19. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S228931

 

Abstract

Purpose

To investigate the effect of Tai Chi exercise on postural balance among people with dementia (PWD) and the feasibility of a definitive trial on falls prevention.

Patients and methods

Dyads, comprising community-dwelling PWD and their informal carer (N=85), were randomised to usual care (n=43) or usual care plus weekly Tai Chi classes and home practice for 20 weeks (n=42). The primary outcome was the timed up and go test. All outcomes for PWD and their carers were assessed six months post-baseline, except for falls, which were collected prospectively over the six-month follow-up period.

Results

For PWD, there was no significant difference at follow-up on the timed up and go test (mean difference [MD] = 0.82, 95% confidence interval [CI] = −2.17, 3.81). At follow-up, PWD in the Tai Chi group had significantly higher quality of life (MD = 0.051, 95% CI = 0.002, 0.100, standardised effect size [ES] = 0.51) and a significantly lower rate of falls (rate ratio = 0.35, 95% CI =0.15, 0.81), which was no longer significant when an outlier was removed. Carers in the Tai Chi group at follow-up were significantly worse on the timed up and go test (MD = 1.83, 95% CI = 0.12, 3.53, ES = 0.61). The remaining secondary outcomes were not significant. No serious adverse events were related to participation in Tai Chi.

Conclusion

With refinement, this Tai Chi intervention has potential to reduce the incidence of falls and improve quality of life among community-dwelling PWD

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6875562/

 

Improve Balance and Mobility and Prevent Falls in Parkinson’s Disease Patients with Tai Chi

Improve Balance and Mobility and Prevent Falls in Parkinson’s Disease Patients with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“There is still so much to learn from research about exactly how exercise improves the physical and mental well-being of people with living with Parkinson’s disease, as well as which combinations or activities yield the best outcomes, but there is no doubt whatsoever that exercise remains one of the best therapies for preserving and enhancing quality of life.” – Davis Phinney

 

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is an incurable progressive degenerative disease of the central nervous system. The condition is caused by the death of nerve cells in the brain that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. There are around seven million people worldwide and one million people in the U.S. living with PD and about 60,000 people are diagnosed with PD every year. PD is associated with aging as the vast majority of patients are diagnosed after age 50. In fact, it has been speculated that everyone would eventually develop PD if they lived long enough.

 

Its physical symptoms include resting tremor, slow movements, muscle rigidity, problems with posture and balance, loss of automatic movements, and slurring of speech. PD itself is not fatal but is often associated with related complications which can reduce life expectancy, such as falls, choking, and cardiovascular problems. Parkinson’s Disease (PD) also has psychological effects, especially cognitive decline, anxiety, and depression. All of these symptoms result in a marked reduction in the quality of life.

 

There are no cures for Parkinson’s Disease or even treatments to slow its progression. There are only treatments that can produce symptomatic relief. So, there is a need to discover new and different treatments. Mindfulness training has been found to improve the psychological symptoms and the quality of life with PD patients.  In addition, Tai Chi practice has been shown to improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. Hence, Tai Chi  may be an excellent treatment for the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Tai Chi Exercise on Reducing Falls and Improving Balance Performance in Parkinson’s Disease: A Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6409066/), Liu and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis on the effectiveness of Tai Chi practice to improve balance and mobility and reduce falls in Parkinson’s Disease (PD) patients. They found and reviewed 5 published randomized controlled trials that compared Tai Chi practice to no intervention, stretching/resistance training, and walking control conditions.

 

They report that the trials found that in comparison to baseline and the control conditions Tai Chi  practice significantly improved balance and functional mobility in the Parkinson’s Disease patients and reduced the number who experienced a fall. This is important as the compromised motor ability of patients with Parkinson’s Disease makes them much more vulnerable to falls and the resultant compromised health. By improving balance and mobility in these patients Tai Chi practice produces enhanced health and well-being.

 

The results of the published research strongly suggests that Tai Chi  practice should be routinely prescribed for patients with Parkinson’s Disease. Tai Chi is a gentle and safe mindfulness practice. It is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. It is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can be practiced in social groups. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. So, Tai Chi practice would appear to be an excellent gentle practice to improve the well-being of patients with Parkinson’s Disease.

 

So, improve balance and mobility and prevent falls in Parkinson’s Disease patients with Tai Chi.

 

Daily Tai Chi practice is extremely helpful to those with chronic ailments and illnesses like cancer, heart disease, stroke, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, peripheral neuropathy, respiratory problems and irritable bowel syndrome to name a few,” – Mwezo

 

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

 

Liu, H. H., Yeh, N. C., Wu, Y. F., Yang, Y. R., Wang, R. Y., & Cheng, F. Y. (2019). Effects of Tai Chi Exercise on Reducing Falls and Improving Balance Performance in Parkinson’s Disease: A Meta-Analysis. Parkinson’s disease, 2019, 9626934. doi:10.1155/2019/9626934

 

Abstract

Introduction

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a common neurodegenerative disorder that may increase the risk of falls, functional limitation, and balance deficits. Tai Chi was used as an option for improving balance in people with PD. The aim of this meta-analysis was to evaluate the effects of Tai Chi on falls, balance, and functional mobility in individuals with PD.

Method

The literature search was conducted in PubMed, the Cochrane Library, CINAHL, PEDro, Medline, Embase, sportDISCUS, Trip, and the National Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations in Taiwan. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) analyzing the effects of Tai Chi, compared to no intervention or to other physical training, on falls, functional mobility, and balance in PD patients were selected. The outcome measurements included fall rates, Berg Balance Scale (BBS), Functional Reach (FR) test, and the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test. Two reviewers independently assessed the methodological quality and extracted data from the studies using the PEDro scale.

Results

Five RCTs that included a total of 355 PD patients were included in this review. The quality of evidence in these studies was rated as moderate to high. Compared to no intervention or other physical training, Tai Chi significantly decreased fall rates (odds ratio = 0.47, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.30 to 0.74, and p=0.001) and significantly improved balance and functional mobility (BBS mean difference (MD) = 3.47, 95% CI 2.11 to 4.80, and p < 0.001; FR MD = 3.55 cm, 95% CI 1.88 to 5.23, and p < 0.001; TUG MD = −1.06 s, 95% CI −1.61 to −0.51, and p < 0.001) in people with PD.

Conclusion

This meta-analysis provides moderate- to high-quality evidence from five RCTs that Tai Chi could be a good physical training strategy for preventing falls and improving balance and functional mobility in people with PD.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6409066/

 

Improve Physical and Mental Well-Being in the Elderly with Yoga

Improve Physical and Mental Well-Being in the Elderly with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga is incredible for an older population to help them maintain their balance, keep their joints flexible, maintain bone health and muscle mass, as well as learn how to cope with their mental state as they witness their bodies aging. Yoga is great for focus, concentration, and emotional wellbeing. Seniors can benefit tremendously from the practice and it gives them a place to quiet their mind and start to slow down in life.” – Kristin McGee

We celebrate the increasing longevity of the population. But aging is a mixed blessing. The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline of the body and the brain. Every system in the body deteriorates including motor function with a decline in strength, flexibility, and balance. It is inevitable. In addition, many elderly experience withdrawal and isolation from social interactions and depression. There is some hope as there is evidence that these declines can be slowed. For example, a healthy diet and a regular program of exercise can slow the physical decline of the body with aging. Also, contemplative practices such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi or qigong have all been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline.

 

Yoga practice has been shown to have a myriad of benefits for psychological and physical health. It is both an exercise and a mind-body practice that stresses both mental attention to present moment movements, breath control, and flexibility, range of motion, and balance. It has been shown to improve balance and flexibility in older individuals.  It is safe and can be practiced by anyone from children to seniors. Recently, there have been a number of high profile athletes who have adopted a yoga practice to improve their athletic performance. But it is not known whether yoga practice is as good as traditional exercise programs in improving the overall functional fitness of sedentary older adults and slow the age related physical decline.

 

In today’s Research News article “The effects of yoga compared to active and inactive controls on physical function and health related quality of life in older adults- systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6451238/), Sivaramakrishnan and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of yoga practice for the well-being of aging individuals. They identified 22 randomized controlled trials of yoga practice effects on the physical function and health related quality of life in older (> 60 years) individuals.

 

They report that the research literature found that yoga practice in comparison to both active and inactive controls produced significant improvements in physical function including lower limb strength and lower body flexibility. In comparison to inactive controls yoga practice also produced a significant improvement in balance. Additionally, they report that yoga practice in comparison to both active and inactive controls produced significant improvement in depression levels. In comparison to inactive controls yoga practice also produced significant improvements in perceived mental health, perceived physical health, sleep quality, and vitality.

 

In looking at the research findings in general, it appears that yoga practice has significant benefits for older adults for physical and mental health. The benefits appear the greatest when yoga practice is compared to no activity, but are still present but to a lesser extent when compared to individuals practicing other activities such as walking, Tai Chi, or stretching exercises. Hence, it appears that many of the benefits of yoga practice are due to the exercise provided by yoga rather than the mind-body components of the practice.

 

But yoga practice still has some important benefits in comparison to older individuals engaging in other activities. These benefits would appear to be independent of the exercise and are likely due to the contemplative practice provided by yoga. The antidepressant effects are particularly important as depression is a major problem for the elderly. The improvements in strength and flexibility are also important as these physical abilities deteriorate with aging and contribute to musculoskeletal problems.

 

The current research literature findings, the, suggest that yoga may be an excellent practice for the slowing of age-related decline. It would appear to be superior to many other activities and should be routinely recommended for physical and mental health of the elderly.

 

So, improve physical and mental well-being in the elderly with Yoga.

 

The research on yoga is preliminary, however, initial studies have found a yoga practice to positively correlate with both physical and mental wellness. It’s uncontroversial that yoga can improve strength, flexibility, and endurance, but studies have also found that regular practice may help: Lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, Recovery from strokes and surgery, prevent falls, manage arthritis, pain and inflammation, manage diabetes, manage digestive issues like IBS, improve sleep quality, facilitate the grieving process, and manage depression and anxiety.” – Yoga for Seniors

 

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

 

Sivaramakrishnan, D., Fitzsimons, C., Kelly, P., Ludwig, K., Mutrie, N., Saunders, D. H., & Baker, G. (2019). The effects of yoga compared to active and inactive controls on physical function and health related quality of life in older adults- systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity, 16(1), 33. doi:10.1186/s12966-019-0789-2

 

Abstract

Background

Yoga has been recommended as a muscle strengthening and balance activity in national and global physical activity guidelines. However, the evidence base establishing the effectiveness of yoga in improving physical function and health related quality of life (HRQoL) in an older adult population not recruited on the basis of any specific disease or condition, has not been systematically reviewed. The objective of this study was to synthesise existing evidence on the effects of yoga on physical function and HRQoL in older adults not characterised by any specific clinical condition.

Methods

The following databases were systematically searched in September 2017: MEDLINE, PsycInfo, CINAHL Plus, Scopus, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, SPORTDiscus, AMED and ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. Study inclusion criteria: Older adult participants with mean age of 60 years and above, not recruited on the basis of any specific disease or condition; yoga intervention compared with inactive controls (example: wait-list control, education booklets) or active controls (example: walking, chair aerobics); physical function and HRQoL outcomes; and randomised/cluster randomised controlled trials published in English. A vote counting analysis and meta-analysis with standardised effect sizes (Hedges’ g) computed using random effects models were conducted.

Results

A total of 27 records from 22 RCTs were included (17 RCTs assessed physical function and 20 assessed HRQoL). The meta-analysis revealed significant effects (5% level of significance) favouring the yoga group for the following physical function outcomes compared with inactive controls: balance (effect size (ES) = 0.7), lower body flexibility (ES = 0.5), lower limb strength (ES = 0.45); compared with active controls: lower limb strength (ES = 0.49), lower body flexibility (ES = 0.28). For HRQoL, significant effects favouring yoga were found compared to inactive controls for: depression (ES = 0.64), perceived mental health (ES = 0.6), perceived physical health (ES = 0.61), sleep quality (ES = 0.65), and vitality (ES = 0.31); compared to active controls: depression (ES = 0.54).

Conclusion

This review is the first to compare the effects of yoga with active and inactive controls in older adults not characterised by a specific clinical condition. Results indicate that yoga interventions improve multiple physical function and HRQoL outcomes in this population compared to both control conditions. This study provides robust evidence for promoting yoga in physical activity guidelines for older adults as a multimodal activity that improves aspects of fitness like strength, balance and flexibility, as well as mental wellbeing.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6451238/

 

Improve Psychomotor Perform of Intellectually Disabled Children with Yoga

Improve Psychomotor Perform of Intellectually Disabled Children with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Special needs experts agree that yoga activities make a positive impact on individuals with special needs.  These activities improve mobility, strength, and digestion for individuals with disabilities.” – Cara Batema

 

Intellectual disabilities involve below average intelligence and relatively slow learning. They are quite common, affecting an estimated 10% of individuals worldwide. These disabilities present problems for the children in learning mathematics, reading and writing. These difficulties, in turn, affect performance in other academic disciplines. The presence of intellectual disabilities can have serious consequences for the psychological well-being of the children, including their self-esteem and social skills. In addition, anxiety, depression, and conduct disorders often accompany learning disabilities. Not as well known is that children with intellectual disabilities also have motor problems.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve attentionmemory, and learning and increase success in school. Exercise has been shown to improve psychomotor performance in children with intellectual disabilities. Yoga is both a mindfulness practice and an exercise that also tends to improve motor ability. So, it would make sense to explore the application of yoga training for the treatment of children with intellectual disabilities.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of yoga practices on psycho-motor abilities among intellectually disabled children.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6165980/ ), Pise and colleagues recruited children aged 10 to 15 years from a school for the intellectually disabled. They were randomly assigned to a no-treatment control group or to receive yoga training for 1 hour per day, 5 days per week, for 12 weeks. The practice consisted of relaxation, postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. They were measured before and after training for balance, eye-hand coordination, agility, and reaction time.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline after the yoga training there were significant increases balance, eye-hand coordination, and agility, and decreases in reaction time. In comparison to the no treatment control group, the yoga group after training had significantly greater balance and faster reaction times. Hence, yoga practice appears to improve motor performance in children with intellectual disabilities.

 

 

These results were obtained with a no-treatment control condition. They need to be repeated with an active control condition such as a different exercise to determine if it was yoga practice itself or the exercise provided by yoga practice that was responsible for the improvements. But, nonetheless, the results suggest that yoga practice may be beneficial for children with intellectual disabilities. Improved motor ability might affect their performance in activities and sports and thereby improve their self-esteem.

 

So, improve psychomotor perform of intellectually disabled children with yoga.

 

“Yoga for special needs classes provide a sense of belonging and community. These adaptive yoga classes focus on building strength, developing regulation skills through breathing, improving mobility and maintaining/improving overall health and emotional well-being.” – Project Yoga

 

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

 

Pise, V., Pradhan, B., & Gharote, M. (2018). Effect of yoga practices on psycho-motor abilities among intellectually disabled children. Journal of exercise rehabilitation, 14(4), 581-585. doi:10.12965/jer.1836290.145

 

Abstract

The children with intellectual disabilities show disorders at motor development and coordination. Hence, the objective of this study was to see the effect of yoga practices on psycho-motor abilities of intellectually disabled children. Seventy intellectually disabled children were divided into experimental group and control group. Both experimental and control group were assessed on the first day and after 12 weeks of the yoga intervention for static balance, eye hand coordination, agility and reaction time. The subjects of experimental group then underwent a training of yoga practices, for 1 hr for a total period of 12 weeks. The result of within group comparison revealed significant improvement in static balance, eye hand coordination, agility, and reaction time (P< 0.001) in subjects of yoga group however no change was observed in control group. The present study demonstrated that 12 weeks of yoga is effective in improving psycho-motor abilities of intellectually disabled children.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6165980/

 

Improve Balance in Stroke Survivors with Qigong

Improve Balance in Stroke Survivors with Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

One of the main issues that a stroke survivor experiences is a problem with balance. Factors contributing to this issue include vision impairments, unbalanced inner-ear equilibrium, or physical weakness on one side of the body. This is where tai chi can make a huge difference. With a complete focus on slow, controlled, and repetitive movements, tai chi is effective in improving one’s balance through dynamic motion and coordination, which is crucial to prevent falls.” – Saebo

 

Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke and it is the third leading cause of death, killing around 140,000 Americans each year. A stroke results from an interruption of the blood supply to the brain, depriving it of needed oxygen and nutrients. This can result in the death of brain cells and depending on the extent of the damage produce profound loss of function.

 

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

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mind–Body Movements on Balance Function in Stroke Survivors: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6025433/ ), Zou and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research literature on the effectiveness of the mindful movement practices of yoga or Tai Chi and Qigong for assisting in the rehabilitation of stroke victims. They found 18 published randomized controlled studies.

 

They found that mindful movement practices produced strong and significant improvements in balance of the patients recovering from stroke. This is particularly important as problems with balance can lead to falling which is a leading cause of injury and death among stroke victims. So, improved balance is an important benefit to the patients. These results are encouraging and suggest that the mindful movement practices of yoga or Tai Chi and Qigong should be used in the rehabilitation or stroke victims.

 

So, improve balance in stroke survivors with yoga, tai chi or qigong.

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Zou, L., Yeung, A., Li, C., Chiou, S.-Y., Zeng, N., Tzeng, H.-M., … Thomas, G. A. (2018). Effects of Mind–Body Movements on Balance Function in Stroke Survivors: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(6), 1292. http://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15061292

 

Abstract

Objective: We performed a systematic review with meta-analysis and meta-regression to determine if mind–body movements (MBM) could be effective in rehabilitating balance function among stroke survivors. Methods: A literature search was conducted using major Chinese and English electronic databases from an inception until January 2018. Randomized controlled studies were included in our meta-analysis. Data was independently extracted by two review authors using a pre-developed table and confirmed by a third party to reach a consensus. Pooled effect size (Hedge’s g) was computed while the random-effect model was set. Results: The meta-analytic results showed a significant benefit of the MBM intervention on increased balance function compared to the control groups (Hedge’s g = 1.59, CI 0.98 to 2.19, p < 0.001, I2 = 94.95%). Additionally, the meta-regression indicated that the total number of sessions (β = 0.00142, 95% CI 0.0039 to 0.0244, p = 0.0067) and dose of weekly training (β = 0.00776, 95% CI0.00579 to 0.00972, p = 0.00) had significantly positive effects on balance function. Conclusions: The study encouraging findings indicate the rehabilitative effect of a MBM intervention for balance function in stroke survivors. However, there were significant limitations in the design among several of the included trials. Additional studies with more robust methodologies are needed to provide a more definitive conclusion.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6025433/

 

Balance and Fitness in the Elderly and Tai Chi Training

Balance and Fitness in the Elderly and Tai Chi Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese exercise that can help older adults improve their balance and lower their fall risk. And by reducing their risk of falls, seniors can lower their odds of suffering a debilitating fracture.” – Harvard Health Letter

 

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 fall 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. These studies, however, employ Tai Chi training over long time frames of 6 months to a year. It is not known if shorter term training would also be effective.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of 12 Weeks of Tai Chi Chuan Training on Balance and Functional Fitness in Older Japanese Adults.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968980/ ), Takeshima and colleagues recruited older adults averaging 73 years of age and assigned them to either receive 12 weeks of Tai Chi training for 2 days per week for 60 minutes or to a no-treatment control group. They were measured before and after training for static balance, dynamic balance, and functional fitness, including upper and lower body strength, balance and agility, upper and lower body flexibility, and cardiorespiratory fitness.

 

Contrary to longer-term studies, they did not find any significant differences between the Tai Chi training and no-treatment control groups in static balance, dynamic balance, or functional fitness.  This lack of benefit of Tai Chi training may well be due to the relative shortness of the 12-week program relative to previous studies employing 6-month to one year trainings. Indeed, previous research by Holmes and colleagues also employing a 12 week program could not detect any overall improvement in balance, but could detect a subtle improvement in postural-respiratory coupling. This may be a precursor to improvements in overall balance. So, 12-weeks of training may produce subtle changes that, if continued over a longer period of time, will lead to improvements in balance.

 

Tai Chi movement patterns can be fairly complex and the elderly may have difficulty learning them over a few sessions. Indeed, it has been reported that it takes 8 to 16 sessions before the patterns are mastered. So, there may need for longer periods of training to master the technique and benefit from it. Hence, there is a need for further research on the amount of Tai Chi training needed to improve balance and reduce falls in the elderly.

 

“I’ve always been clumsy, so Tai Chi has offered me the opportunity to be able to think more about what I’m doing, pay attention to what I’m doing, and not fall. I’m able to catch myself if I trip over something because of Tai Chi,” – Velma Chapman

 

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

 

Takeshima, N., Islam, M. M., Kato, Y., Koizumi, D., Narita, M., Kitabayashi, Y., … Rogers, M. E. (2017). Effects of 12 Weeks of Tai Chi Chuan Training on Balance and Functional Fitness in Older Japanese Adults. Sports, 5(2), 32. http://doi.org/10.3390/sports5020032

 

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of Tai Chi Chuan on static and dynamic balance, and functional fitness in older adults. Forty-nine volunteers were divided into an exercise group (EX: 9 men and 16 women, average age 72 ± 5 years) and control group (13 men and 11 women, average age 73 ± 6 years). The EX participated in a 12-week supervised exercise program (60 min/day, 2 days/week) that consisted of 10-min warm-up and stretching, 40-min Tai Chi Chuan exercise (long-form Yang style with 108 movements), and 10-min cool-down/relaxation exercises. The control group was asked to not change their physical activity habits. Static (sway velocity standing on firm or foam surfaces with eyes open or closed) and dynamic balance (limits of stability (LOS)), as well as functional fitness measures of body mass; upper- and lower-body strength; and flexibility, mobility, and aerobic fitness were taken before and after the intervention. After the 12-week Tai Chi Chuan exercise program, there were no improvements in any functional fitness or balance variable although components of LOS tended to increase (13.1%, p = 0.052). These results indicate that 12 weeks of Tai Chi Chuan exercise has no significant effect on balance and functional fitness parameters in older Japanese adults.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968980/