Decrease Stroke Risk with Tai Chi or Qigong

Decrease Stroke Risk with Tai Chi or Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke and it is the third leading cause of death, killing around 140,000 Americans each year. A stroke results from an interruption of the blood supply to the brain, depriving it of needed oxygen and nutrients. This can result in the death of brain cells and depending on the extent of the damage produce profound loss of function. Strokes come in two varieties. The most common (87%) is ischemic stroke resulting from a blocked artery. But strokes can also occur due to leaking or rupture of a blood vessel in the brain, known as hemorrhagic stroke.

 

There are a number of risk factors for stroke that are unchangeable, such as family history, age, and genes. But there are a very large number of factors that are under our control including high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, poor diet, sedentariness, and obesity. Given this list it is clear that basic physical fitness and exercise would be excellent for stroke prevention. The ancient mindful movement technique Tai Chi is a very safe form of gentle exercise that appears to be beneficial for stroke victims.

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

So, decrease stroke risk with Tai Chi or Qigong.

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Abstract

Background:

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

Methods:

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

Results:

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Reduce Inflammatory Markers and Blood Fat Levels with Yoga

Reduce Inflammatory Markers and Blood Fat Levels with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“So far, the results suggest that different mind-body interventions may well all be working in a similar way. If your main purpose is to reduce inflammation to improve health. “it seems it really doesn’t matter which one you choose”. – Ivana Buric

 

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.

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. High blood fat levels are an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease. They increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke three-fold. The good news is that in general, diet, exercise, and weight loss can reduce the levels of fat circulating in the blood.

 

Of course, it is far better to prevent chronic inflammation and cardiovascular disease 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. Similarly, contemplative practices have also been shown to be helpful for heart health particularly those that are also exercises such as tai chi and yoga. Most of these results were obtained from treating diseased individuals. It is important to establish if yoga practice can be effective in preventing chronic inflammation and cardiovascular disease also in healthy individuals who are in potentially toxic environments.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of yoga training on inflammatory cytokines and C-reactive protein in employees of small-scale industries.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5561768/ ), Shete and colleagues recruited healthy adults who worked in manufacturing chemicals, paints, and steel; environments that are prone to producing inflammation. They were randomly assigned to either a wait-list control or to receive 3-minths of yoga practice, 6 days per week for 1 hour per day. The yoga practice consisted of stretching, postures, and breathing exercises. The participants were measured before and after training for blood levels of lipids including cholesterol, triglyceride, and HDL, LDL and VLDL, and blood levels of inflammatory markers, IL-6, TNF-α, and hs-CRP.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the group that practiced yoga had significantly improved levels of blood fats, including lower levels of cholesterol and Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), and lower levels of the inflammatory markers Interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α). Hence, the results suggest that yoga practice produces significant reductions in inflammation and blood fat levels.

 

Conclusions from these results must be tempered as the control group did not have an active comparison such as aerobic exercise. So, it cannot be determined if exercise of yoga in particular was responsible for the improvements. But, the results clearly show that engaging in yoga practice can lower the levels of risk factors for chronic inflammation and cardiovascular disease even in workers who are employed in high risk occupations. This could improve health and well-being, and increase longevity.

 

So, reduce inflammatory markers and blood fat levels with yoga.

 

“new research . . . has demonstrated that individuals who are naturally mindful tend to have healthier hearts and a reduced risk of obesity. In the face of temptations to eat junk food and sit in front of the TV all day, they seem to have chosen a healthier path that we all could emulate.” – Adam Hoffman

 

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

 

Shete, S. U., Verma, A., Kulkarni, D. D., & Bhogal, R. S. (2017). Effect of yoga training on inflammatory cytokines and C-reactive protein in employees of small-scale industries. Journal of Education and Health Promotion, 6, 76. http://doi.org/10.4103/jehp.jehp_65_17

 

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The present study intends to see the effect of yoga practices on lipid profile, interleukin (IL)-6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, and high-sensitivity-C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) among apparently healthy adults exposed to occupational hazards.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

In the present study, 48 participants aged 30–58 years (41.5 ± 5.2) who were exposed to occupational hazards were randomized into two groups, that is, experimental and wait-list control. All the participants were assessed for lipid profile, IL-6, TNF-α, and hs-CRP at the baseline and after completion of 3 months of yoga training intervention. The experimental group underwent yoga training intervention for 1 h for 6 days a week for 3 months, whereas control group continued with their daily activities except yoga training. Data analysis was done using statistical software SPSS Version 20.0. Data were analyzed using paired t-tests and independent t-test.

RESULTS:

The results of within group comparison revealed highly significant changes in cholesterol (P < 0.001), high-density lipoprotein (P < 0.001), low-density lipoprotein (LDL)(P < 0.01), hs-CRP (P < 0.01), IL-6 (P < 0.001), and TNF-α (P < 0.001) in experimental group. Comparison between experimental and control group revealed significant changes in cholesterol (P < 0.01), LDL (P < 0.05), IL-6 (P < 0.01), TNF-α (P < 0.01), and hs-CRP (P < 0.01).

CONCLUSION:

A yoga-based lifestyle intervention seems to be a highly promising alternative therapy which favorably alters inflammatory markers and metabolic risk factors.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5561768/

Lower Blood Fat with Tai Chi

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By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Tai Chi is a gentle, graceful, inspiring exercise that has been found to reduce blood pressure, improve balance and reduce falls. It also increases overall toning, improves posture and circulation, increases flexibility and strength.” – Nabi Su

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack” (Centers for Disease Control). High blood fat levels are an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease. They increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke three-fold. The good news is that in general, diet, exercise, and weight loss can reduce the levels of fat circulating in the blood.

 

Contemplative practices have also been shown to be helpful for heart health particularly those that are also exercises such as tai chi and yoga. Tai chi is an ancient contemplative practice involving slow motion smooth mindful movement. The reason that it has continued to be practiced by millions for centuries is that it has major mental and physical benefits. Modern research is verifying these benefits. Mindful movement practice has been shown to improve balance, self-concept, and attention span, reduce falls, boost the immune system and helps to relieve symptoms of arthritis, asthma, Parkinson’s disease, insomnia, even improve cancer recovery, and improve recovery from heart failure. So, it makes sense to further explore the effectiveness of Tai Chi practice for the control of blood fat levels.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of Tai Chi exercise on blood lipid profiles: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1436358716388050/?type=3&theater

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4980442/

Pan and colleagues summarized the published research literature on the effects of tai chi practice on the levels of fats in the blood of Chinese adults. They found six randomized controlled trials, containing a control condition. Tai chi training ranged from 12 weeks to 12 months, with most between 12-14 weeks of practice. They reported that the literature found that tai chi practice produced a statistically significant decrease in blood fat levels overall and a trend toward a significant reduction in total blood cholesterol levels. But, there were no significant differences for either low-density or high-density lipoproteins.

 

These are promising results. It should be noted, however, that the majority of studies employed a wait-list control condition that did not contain a systematic exercise program. So, it cannot be determined if the effects on blood fat levels were due to tai chi practice specifically or would have been produced by any exercise program. But, since tai chi is a very gentle practice, it is safe for a wide range of individuals, including the elderly and patients compromised by other illnesses. So, tai chi is an excellent light exercise program that can improve blood fat levels and potentially reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

 

So, lower blood fat with tai chi.

 

“So, it’s unclear what mechanism of action is responsible for the reduction in blood pressure, cholesterol and depressive symptoms among these folks, but it’s unlikely to be from Chinese exercise alone.  A more probable explanation is that these patients adopted other health enhancing behaviors in addition to Chinese exercise such as improving their diet and/or engaging in physical exercises with a comparatively higher cardiac demand.”American Council on Science and 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

 

Study Summary

Pan, X., Mahemuti, A., Zhang, X., Wang, Y., Hu, P., Jiang, J., … Wang, J. (2016). Effect of Tai Chi exercise on blood lipid profiles: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Zhejiang University. Science. B, 17(8), 640–648. http://doi.org/10.1631/jzus.B1600052

 

ABSTRACT

Objective: Studies have demonstrated that Tai Chi exercise improves blood lipid level with inconsistent results. A meta-analysis was conducted to quantify the effects of Tai Chi on blood lipid profiles in humans. Methods: We screened the databases of PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Library (Central), Web of Science, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), Wanfang data, and Clinicaltrials.gov for randomized controlled trials with Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) score more than 3 points up to June 2015. Six studies involving 445 subjects were included. Most trials applied 12-week Tai Chi intervention courses. Results: In comparison with the control group, blood triglyceride (TG) level difference between follow-up and baseline was statistically significantly lower in the Tai Chi practicing group (weighted mean difference (WMD) −16.81 mg/dl; 95% confidence intervals (CI) −31.27 to −2.35 mg/dl; P=0.02). A trend to improving total cholesterol (TC) reduction was found with Tai Chi (WMD −7.96 mg/dl; 95% CI −17.30 to 1.39 mg/dl; P=0.10). However, no difference was found in blood low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). Conclusions: Tai Chi exercise lowered blood TG level with a trend to decrease blood TC level. Our data suggest that Tai Chi has the potential to implement meaningful blood lipid modification and serve as an adjunctive exercise modality. The relationship between Tai Chi exercise regimen and lipid profile change might have a scientific priority for future investigation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4980442/