Improve Cardiopulmonary and Metabolic Condition and Body Weight with Yoga

Improve Cardiopulmonary and Metabolic Condition and Body Weight with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Every time you practice yoga, you have the chance to reclaim part of yourself that you don’t always have easy access to. It might be physical, mental, or emotional, but the process of integration is quickened by yoga practice.” – Dinabandhu Sarley

 

Yoga practice has been shown to have a large number of beneficial effects on the psychological, emotional, and physical health of the individual and is helpful in the treatment of mental and physical illness, including cardiovascular disease and metabolic problems. This is important as cardiovascular disease is the number one killer, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. In addition, Metabolic Syndrome is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It generally results from overweight and abdominal obesity and includes high blood pressure, insulin resistance and elevation of plasma cholesterol and triglycerides. It is an important risk factor as it increases the risk of developing type-2 diabetes five-fold and heart attack or stroke three-fold.

 

A myriad of treatments has been developed for heart disease including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. But the safest effective treatments are lifestyle changes. These include quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses. Other safe and effective treatments are contemplative practices, such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. These practices have also been shown to be helpful for producing the kinds of lifestyle changes needed to prevent heart disease such as smoking cessationweight reduction, and stress reduction. Metabolic Syndrome can also be prevented or reverse the risk with exercise and weight loss.

 

Since, yoga is a mindfulness practice and an exercise it would seem to be ideally suited for the prevention of cardiovascular, pulmonary, or metabolic problems. In today’s Research News article “Cardiopulmonary and metabolic effects of yoga in healthy volunteers.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: http://www.ijoy.org.in/article.asp?issn=0973-6131;year=2017;volume=10;issue=3;spage=115;epage=120;aulast=Divya, Divya and colleagues examine the effectiveness of yoga practice in improving cardiovascular and metabolic health in healthy adults. They recruited participants in a 41-day yoga training occurring 75 min/day, 6 days/week. Practice included meditation, breathing practice, mudras, postures, and relaxation. Before and after training they were measured for their lipid profile, thyroid function, cardiac and pulmonary function, and autonomic function.

 

They found that following the treatment there were significant improvements in cardiovascular function, including decreases resting heart rate and systolic and diastolic blood pressure, blood pressure response to standing, improvements in metabolic function, including decreases in body mass index, blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood fat, and increases in pulmonary function, including increases in lung size, expiratory volume, and peak expiratory flow rate. Hence, participation in the yoga training produced significant improvements in cardiopulmonary and metabolic health.

 

It should be noted that there wasn’t a control or comparison condition included in the study. The participants physical state prior to training was simply compared to that after training. But, the improvements were of such a magnitude that it would be unlikely to be produced by confounding factors, such as expectancy effects or the passage of time. Since the participants were healthy adults at the start of training, the improvements are even more striking. This suggests that participation in yoga practice promotes health and may delay or prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.

 

So, improve cardiopulmonary and metabolic condition and body weight with yoga.

 

“Yoga burns calories, tones your body and gives you a challenging routine to perform. Further, yoga increases flexibility, muscular strength, and muscular endurance. Physiologically, yoga has been shown to decrease resting heart rate, respiration and blood pressure and improve metabolic rate.” – Nikki Prosch

 

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

 

Divya T S, Vijayalakshmi M T, Mini K, Asish K, Pushpalatha M, Suresh V. Cardiopulmonary and metabolic effects of yoga in healthy volunteers. Int J Yoga 2017;10:115-20

 

Abstract

Background: Yoga the spiritual union of mind with the divine intelligence of the universe aims to liberate a human being from conflicts of body–mind duality. Beneficial cardiovascular and pulmonary effects of yoga are in par with aerobic exercise, even amounting to replace the exercise model. We conducted an interventional study in healthy volunteers, to analyze the impact of short-term yoga training on cardiovascular, pulmonary, autonomic function tests, lipid profile, and thyroid function tests. Materials and Methods: A sample of fifty new recruits attending the district yoga center was subject to 75 min yoga practice a day for 41 days. Basal values of cardiovascular, pulmonary, autonomic function tests, lipid profile, and thyroid function tests were recorded before yoga training and were reassessed for postyoga changes after 41 days. Results: After yoga practice there was a significant reduction in the resting heart rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and mean blood pressure of the participants. Effects on autonomic function tests were variable and inconclusive. There was a significant increase in forced vital capacity, forced expiratory volume in 1 s, and peak expiratory flow rate after yoga. A significant reduction in body mass index was observed. Effects on metabolic parameters were promising with a significant reduction in fasting blood sugar level, serum total cholesterol, serum triglycerides serum low-density lipoprotein levels, and significant increase in high-density lipoprotein. There was no significant change in thyroid function tests after yoga. Conclusion: Short-term yoga practice has no effect on thyroid functions. Yoga practice was found beneficial in maintaining physiological milieu pertaining to cardiovascular and other metabolic parameters.

 

http://www.ijoy.org.in/article.asp?issn=0973-6131;year=2017;volume=10;issue=3;spage=115;epage=120;aulast=Divya

Improve Body Mass and Blood Pressure with Yoga

Improve Body Mass and Blood Pressure with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

 “Those practicing yoga who were overweight to start with lost about five pounds during the same time period those not practicing yoga gained 14 pounds.” – Alan Kristol

 

Obesity has become an epidemic in the industrialized world. In the U.S. the incidence of obesity, defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above has more than doubled over the last 35 years to currently around 35% of the population, while two thirds of the population are considered overweight or obese (BMI > 25). Although the incidence rates have appeared to stabilize, the fact that over a third of the population is considered obese is very troubling because of the health consequences of obesity. Obesity has been found to shorten life expectancy by eight years and extreme obesity by 14 years. This occurs because obesity is associated with cardiovascular problems such as coronary heart disease and hypertension, stroke, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and others.

 

Obviously, there is a need for effective treatments to prevent or treat obesity. But, despite copious research and a myriad of dietary and exercise programs, there still is no safe and effective treatment. Mindfulness is known to be associated with lower risk for obesity. Mindfulness has also been shown to make people more aware of eating and reduce intake. This suggests that mindfulness training may be an effective treatment for overeating and obesity. Yoga training involves both mindfulness and exercise. So, yoga training might be very effective in reducing body weight and improving cardiovascular health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga Practice Improves the Body Mass Index and Blood Pressure: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5433109/, Chauhan and colleagues recruited healthy adults who participated in a 1-month yoga camp, with 1 hour of yoga practice each day, and a no-treatment control group. Before and after the 1-month treatment period the participants were measured for body size and blood pressure.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment control group, the yoga participants had a significant decrease in their Body Mass Index (BMI, weight divided by height squared, a standard measure of body size and overweight), and significant decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Hence yoga practice resulted in improvements in body size and cardiovascular health.

 

These results suggest that yoga practice may be helpful in treating overweight and preventing obesity and the resultant cardiovascular problems. The study, however, compared a yoga group to a no-treatment group. So, potential confounding variables such as expectancy and attentional effects cannot be excluded as explanations. Future research studies should compare yoga practice to other exercise programs to establish if it’s the exercise contained in the yoga practice that is responsible for the benefits or something specific to yoga practice.

 

So, improve body mass and blood pressure with yoga.

 

“Yoga can control daily behaviors, produce self-awareness, boost personal growth and bring self-realization. This can help to improve eating patterns and promote self-control. Yoga has a promising effect in addressing a wide range of health conditions by stabilizing BMI.” – Minakshi Welukar

 

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

 

Chauhan, A., Semwal, D. K., Mishra, S. P., & Semwal, R. B. (2017). Yoga Practice Improves the Body Mass Index and Blood Pressure: A Randomized Controlled Trial. International Journal of Yoga, 10(2), 103–106. http://doi.org/10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_46_16

 

Abstract

Background:

Yoga, an ancient Indian system of exercise and therapy is an art of good living or an integrated system for the benefit of the body, mind, and inner spirit. Regular practice of yoga can help to increase blood flow to the brain, reduce stress, have a calming effect on the nervous system, and greatly help in reducing hypertension.

Aim:

Aim of the present study is to evaluate the effect of 1-month yoga practice on body mass index (BMI), and blood pressure (BP).

Materials and Methods:

The present study was conducted to determine the effect of yoga practice on 64 participants (age 53.6 ± 13.1 years) (experimental group) whereas the results were compared with 26 healthy volunteers (control group). We examined the effects of yoga on physiological parameters in a 1-month pilot study. Most of the participants were learner and practiced yoga for 1 h daily in the morning for 1 month. BMI and BP (systolic and diastolic) were studied before and after 1 month of yoga practice.

Results:

Yoga practice causes decreased BMI (26.4 ± 2.5–25.22 ± 2.4), systolic BP (136.9 ± 22.18 mmHg to 133 ± 21.38 mmHg), and diastolic BP (84.7 ± 6.5 mmHg to 82.34 ± 7.6 mmHg). On the other hand, no significant changes were observed in BMI and BP of control group.

Conclusion:

This study concludes that yoga practice has potential to control BMI and BP without taking any medication.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5433109/

Improve Exercise Capacity in Heart Disease with Mindfulness

Improve Exercise Capacity in Heart Disease with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Why bother to do a mindfulness practice in addition to regular workouts?” You know that exercise can clear your head and turn around a bad mood. But when you add mindfulness in to the mix, you add rocket fuel to these already valuable benefits.” – Belief net
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. A myriad of treatments has been developed for heart disease including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. But, these treatments can be costly, invasive, have major side effects, and often don’t address the root causes of the disease. On the other hand, the safest effective treatments for heart disease are lifestyle changes.

 

It has been demonstrated that lifestyle is a major contributor to the development of heart disease. quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses have shown to be effective in treating heart disease. Contemplative practices such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health have also been shown to be safe and effective treatments. In addition, mindfulness practices have also been shown to be helpful for producing the kinds of lifestyle changes needed such as smoking cessationweight reduction, and stress reduction.

 

One problem with the employment of mindfulness treatment programs to treat disease is that they require patients to meet frequently with professional therapists in either individual or group settings. This can be inconvenient, costly, and time consuming and for many people who live in remote areas, unavailable. So, to overcome these problems, mindfulness based techniques have been successfully developed and delivered over the internet. In a study by Younge et al. it was demonstrated that a 12-week mindfulness intervention significantly improved exercise capacity and decreased heart rate and blood pressure. The study, however, did not include a long-term follow-up. So, it is unknown how long-lasting the effects of the mindfulness treatment may be. In today’s Research News article “Online mindfulness as a promising method to improve exercise capacity in heart disease: 12-month follow-up of a randomized controlled trial.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5423609/, Gotink and colleagues perform a 12-month follow-up of the patients included in the study by Younge et al.

 

They recruited adult patients with existing, diagnosed heart disease and randomly assigned to a 12-week on-line mindfulness training or a usual medical care condition. The mindfulness training program included different meditations, self-reflection, yoga, and practical assignments and suggestions for using mindfulness in day-to-day life. After completion of the program the participants continued to receive biweekly reminders to continue practice. The patients were measured before and after training and 9-months later for exercise capacity measured with the 6-minute walk test, blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and cortisol levels, mental and physical functioning, anxiety and depression, perceived stress, and social support.

 

They found that similar to the benefits of mindfulness training documented at the end of training, 9-months later there were still small but significant improvements in the mindfulness group in exercise capacity, systolic blood pressure, mental functioning, and depression. These results are important in that they demonstrate that on-line mindfulness training can have lasting benefits for patients with heart disease. On-line training is inexpensive, convenient, and available to everyone with internet connections. It is effective for producing long-term improvements in exercise capacity in patients with heart disease allowing the patients to safely engage in beneficial exercise programs to strengthen the cardiovascular system. In addition, mindfulness training has been shown to help with producing other lifestyle changes that are beneficial for heart disease, Hence, it would be reasonable to suggest that on-line mindfulness training should be incorporated into standard  heart disease treatment programs.

 

So, improve exercise capacity in heart disease with mindfulness.

 

“There are well documented studies that show meditation reverses the physiologic manifestations of stress such as elevated blood pressure and heart rate.” – Joon Lee

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are

Improve Exercise Capacity in Heart Disease with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Why bother to do a mindfulness practice in addition to regular workouts?” You know that exercise can clear your head and turn around a bad mood. But when you add mindfulness in to the mix, you add rocket fuel to these already valuable benefits.” – Belief net
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. A myriad of treatments has been developed for heart disease including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. But, these treatments can be costly, invasive, have major side effects, and often don’t address the root causes of the disease. On the other hand, the safest effective treatments for heart disease are lifestyle changes.

 

It has been demonstrated that lifestyle is a major contributor to the development of heart disease. quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses have shown to be effective in treating heart disease. Contemplative practices such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health have also been shown to be safe and effective treatments. In addition, mindfulness practices have also been shown to be helpful for producing the kinds of lifestyle changes needed such as smoking cessationweight reduction, and stress reduction.

 

One problem with the employment of mindfulness treatment programs to treat disease is that they require patients to meet frequently with professional therapists in either individual or group settings. This can be inconvenient, costly, and time consuming and for many people who live in remote areas, unavailable. So, to overcome these problems, mindfulness based techniques have been successfully developed and delivered over the internet. In a study by Younge et al. it was demonstrated that a 12-week mindfulness intervention significantly improved exercise capacity and decreased heart rate and blood pressure. The study, however, did not include a long-term follow-up. So, it is unknown how long-lasting the effects of the mindfulness treatment may be. In today’s Research News article “Online mindfulness as a promising method to improve exercise capacity in heart disease: 12-month follow-up of a randomized controlled trial.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5423609/, Gotink and colleagues perform a 12-month follow-up of the patients included in the study by Younge et al.

 

They recruited adult patients with existing, diagnosed heart disease and randomly assigned to a 12-week on-line mindfulness training or a usual medical care condition. The mindfulness training program included different meditations, self-reflection, yoga, and practical assignments and suggestions for using mindfulness in day-to-day life. After completion of the program the participants continued to receive biweekly reminders to continue practice. The patients were measured before and after training and 9-months later for exercise capacity measured with the 6-minute walk test, blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and cortisol levels, mental and physical functioning, anxiety and depression, perceived stress, and social support.

 

They found that similar to the benefits of mindfulness training documented at the end of training, 9-months later there were still small but significant improvements in the mindfulness group in exercise capacity, systolic blood pressure, mental functioning, and depression. These results are important in that they demonstrate that on-line mindfulness training can have lasting benefits for patients with heart disease. On-line training is inexpensive, convenient, and available to everyone with internet connections. It is effective for producing long-term improvements in exercise capacity in patients with heart disease allowing the patients to safely engage in beneficial exercise programs to strengthen the cardiovascular system. In addition, mindfulness training has been shown to help with producing other lifestyle changes that are beneficial for heart disease, Hence, it would be reasonable to suggest that on-line mindfulness training should be incorporated into standard  heart disease treatment programs.

 

So, improve exercise capacity in heart disease with mindfulness.

 

“There are well documented studies that show meditation reverses the physiologic manifestations of stress such as elevated blood pressure and heart rate.” – Joon Lee

 

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

 

Gotink, R. A., Younge, J. O., Wery, M. F., Utens, E. M. W. J., Michels, M., Rizopoulos, D., … Hunink, M. M. G. (2017). Online mindfulness as a promising method to improve exercise capacity in heart disease: 12-month follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. PLoS ONE, 12(5), e0175923. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0175923

 

Abstract

There is increasing evidence that mindfulness can reduce stress, and thereby affect other psychological and physiological outcomes as well. Earlier, we reported the direct 3-month results of an online modified mindfulness-based stress reduction training in patients with heart disease, and now we evaluate the effect at 12-month follow-up. 324 patients (mean age 43.2 years, 53.7% male) were randomized in a 2:1 ratio to additional 3-month online mindfulness training or to usual care alone. The primary outcome was exercise capacity measured with the 6 minute walk test (6MWT). Secondary outcomes were blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, NT-proBNP, cortisol levels (scalp hair sample), mental and physical functioning (SF-36), anxiety and depression (HADS), perceived stress (PSS), and social support (PSSS12). Differences between groups on the repeated outcome measures were analyzed with linear mixed models. At 12-months follow-up, participants showed a trend significant improvement exercise capacity (6MWT: 17.9 meters, p = 0.055) compared to UC. Cohen’s D showed significant but small improvement on exercise capacity (d = 0.22; 95%CI 0.05 to 0.39), systolic blood pressure (d = 0.19; 95%CI 0.03 to 0.36), mental functioning (d = 0.22; 95%CI 0.05 to 0.38) and depressive symptomatology (d = 0.18; 95%CI 0.02 to 0.35). All other outcome measures did not change statistically significantly. In the as-treated analysis, systolic blood pressure decreased significantly with 5.5 mmHg (p = 0.045; d = 0.23 (95%CI 0.05–0.41)). Online mindfulness training shows favorable albeit small long-term effects on exercise capacity, systolic blood pressure, mental functioning, and depressive symptomatology in patients with heart disease and might therefore be a beneficial addition to current clinical care.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5423609/

also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Gotink, R. A., Younge, J. O., Wery, M. F., Utens, E. M. W. J., Michels, M., Rizopoulos, D., … Hunink, M. M. G. (2017). Online mindfulness as a promising method to improve exercise capacity in heart disease: 12-month follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. PLoS ONE, 12(5), e0175923. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0175923

 

Abstract

There is increasing evidence that mindfulness can reduce stress, and thereby affect other psychological and physiological outcomes as well. Earlier, we reported the direct 3-month results of an online modified mindfulness-based stress reduction training in patients with heart disease, and now we evaluate the effect at 12-month follow-up. 324 patients (mean age 43.2 years, 53.7% male) were randomized in a 2:1 ratio to additional 3-month online mindfulness training or to usual care alone. The primary outcome was exercise capacity measured with the 6 minute walk test (6MWT). Secondary outcomes were blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, NT-proBNP, cortisol levels (scalp hair sample), mental and physical functioning (SF-36), anxiety and depression (HADS), perceived stress (PSS), and social support (PSSS12). Differences between groups on the repeated outcome measures were analyzed with linear mixed models. At 12-months follow-up, participants showed a trend significant improvement exercise capacity (6MWT: 17.9 meters, p = 0.055) compared to UC. Cohen’s D showed significant but small improvement on exercise capacity (d = 0.22; 95%CI 0.05 to 0.39), systolic blood pressure (d = 0.19; 95%CI 0.03 to 0.36), mental functioning (d = 0.22; 95%CI 0.05 to 0.38) and depressive symptomatology (d = 0.18; 95%CI 0.02 to 0.35). All other outcome measures did not change statistically significantly. In the as-treated analysis, systolic blood pressure decreased significantly with 5.5 mmHg (p = 0.045; d = 0.23 (95%CI 0.05–0.41)). Online mindfulness training shows favorable albeit small long-term effects on exercise capacity, systolic blood pressure, mental functioning, and depressive symptomatology in patients with heart disease and might therefore be a beneficial addition to current clinical care.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5423609/

Reduce Weight and Cardiovascular Disease Risk with Mindfulness

Reduce Weight and Cardiovascular Disease Risk with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“since stress is often at the root of overeating, mindfulness seems to make us eat better meals, which means it’s likely possible to lose weight without dieting.” – Mandy Oaklander

 

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). A myriad of treatments has been developed for heart disease including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. In addition, lifestyle changes have proved to be effective including quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses. Stress reduction is a key lifestyle change in treating heart conditions as stress can lead to increased physiological arousal including increased blood pressure that can exacerbate the patient’s condition

 

Contemplative practices, such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. In addition, mindfulness practices have also been shown to be helpful for producing the kinds of other lifestyle changes needed such as smoking cessation and weight reduction. They are particularly helpful for stress reduction, decreasing the psychological and physiological responses to stress. So, it would make sense to investigate the effectiveness of mindfulness practices in the treatment of cardiac patients. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Weight Loss and CVD Risk Management.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5386400/

Fulwiler and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effects of mindfulness training on cardiovascular disease risk.

 

One way to reduce cardiovascular disease risk is weight reduction. They report that the literature does not find mindfulness training by itself to be effective in reducing weight. But, when mindfulness training involves development of specific skills such as mindful eating skills or in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) then it produces significant weight reduction. Another risk factor is cigarette smoking and they find that the literature reports that mindfulness training is effective for quitting and remaining abstinent. Another way to reduce cardiovascular disease risk is blood pressure reduction and increasing physical activity. They report that the published studies find that mindfulness training is effective in reducing blood pressure and increasing in physical activity.

 

Hence, the published studies find that mindfulness training is effective in reducing cardiovascular disease risk by reducing body weight, smoking, blood pressure, and increasing physical activity. These are important findings that suggest that mindfulness training reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease and as a result increase longevity. Mindfulness training probably has these effects primarily by reducing the physiological and psychological responses to stress and by encouraging present moment awareness of the physical state and sensations such as taste and smell.

 

So, reduce weight and cardiovascular disease risk with mindfulness.

 

“Applied to eating, mindfulness includes noticing the colors, smells, flavors, and textures of your food; chewing slowly; getting rid of distractions like TV or reading; and learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food.” – Harvard 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

Fulwiler, C., Brewer, J. A., Sinnott, S., & Loucks, E. B. (2015). Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Weight Loss and CVD Risk Management. Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports, 9(10), 46. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12170-015-0474-1

 

Abstract

Obesity affects more than one-third of U.S. adults and is a major cause of preventable morbidity and mortality, primarily from cardiovascular disease. Traditional behavioral interventions for weight loss typically focus on diet and exercise habits and often give little attention to the role of stress and emotions in the initiation and maintenance of unhealthy behaviors, which may account for their modest results and considerable variability in outcomes. Stress eating and emotional eating are increasingly recognized as important targets of weight loss interventions. Mindfulness-based interventions were specifically developed to promote greater self-efficacy in coping with stress and negative emotions, and appear to be effective for a variety of conditions. In recent years researchers have begun to study mindfulness interventions for weight loss and CVD risk management. This review describes the rationale for the use of mindfulness in interventions for weight loss and CVD risk management, summarizes the research to date, and suggests priorities for future research.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5386400/

Improve Health with Qigong

Improve Health with Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Qigong is an ancient Chinese system of exercise and meditation that makes the mind and spirit tranquil, improves performance in sports, and cultivates health, well-being, and long life.” – Annie Bond

 

Qigong and Tai Chi have been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevityQigong and Tai Chi trainings are designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through controlled breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. Only recently though have the effects of these practices been scrutinized with empirical research. This research has found that they are effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. They appear to strengthen the immune systemreduce inflammation and increase the number of cancer killing cells in the bloodstream, improve cardiovascular healthreduce arthritis painimprove balance and reduce falls. They also appear to improve attentional ability and relieve depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Baduanjin Qigong for Health Benefits: Randomized Controlled Trials.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5359459/

Zou and colleagues review the published research literature on the effects of one particular Qigong practice, Baduanjin Qigong, on health.  Baduanjin Qigong involves only 8 simple movements and “is characterized by interplay between symmetrical physical postures and movements, mind, and breathing exercise in a harmonious manner.” They discovered 19 published randomized controlled trials employing adults. About 1/3 of the participants were healthy and 2/3 were ill with a variety of diseases including “type 2 diabetes mellitus, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, hypertension, knee osteoarthritis, and chronic fatigue syndrome-like illness.”

 

The published research revealed that Baduanjin Qigong produced significant improvements in quality of life (6 studies), sleep quality (6 studies), balance (6 studies), handgrip strength (5 studies), trunk and hip flexibility (4 studies), leg power (2 studies), walking performance (2 studies), systolic and diastolic blood pressures (9 studies), respiratory efficiency (6 studies), and cardiorespiratory endurance (4 studies). The small number of studies (2) that measured leg power and walking performance makes conclusions about these improvements tentative. But, the rest of the improvements would appear to be solid findings of a magnitude to be considered of clinical significance.

 

These are exciting results. The range of different areas of physical improvement produced by Baduanjin Qigong and the range of illnesses improved are impressive. Since, this ancient gentle practice is completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, is 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 as only 8 movements are involved, it would appear to be an excellent treatment for sickly individuals, especially the elderly. It remains to be seen how effective Baduanjin Qigong might be for mental and emotional problems.

 

So, improve health with qigong.

 

“Sometimes Qigong and Tai Chi are called a moving meditation in which the mind and body are led to a state of balance and equilibrium also known as homeostasis. A Harvard medical publication said it should also be called “moving medication.” The advantages of improving strength, flexibility and balance are pretty obvious but the advantages of peace that comes from the moving flowing meditative aspect of Qigong and Tai Chi are equally important.” – Denise Nagel

 

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., SasaKi, J. E., Wang, H., Xiao, Z., Fang, Q., & Zhang, M. (2017). A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Baduanjin Qigong for Health Benefits: Randomized Controlled Trials. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 2017, 4548706. http://doi.org/10.1155/2017/4548706

 

Abstract

Objective. To investigate the effects of practicing Baduanjin Qigong on different health outcomes. Methods. Six electronic databases were used for literature search through entering the following key words: Baduanjin Qigong, quality of life, sleep quality, and health-related outcomes. Results. Nineteen randomized controlled trials were used for meta-analysis. The aggregated results from this systematic review have shown significant benefits in favour of Baduanjin Qigong on quality of life (SMD, −0.75; 95% CI −1.26 to −0.24; P = 0.004), sleep quality (SMD, −0.55; 95% CI −0.97 to −0.12; P = 0.01), balance (SMD, −0.94; 95% CI −1.59 to 0.30; P = 0.004), handgrip strength (SMD, −0.69; 95% CI −1.2 to −0.19; P = 0.007), trunk flexibility (SMD, −0.66; 95% CI −1.13 to −0.19; P = 0.006), systolic (SMD, −0.60; 95% CI −0.94 to −0.27; P = 0.0004) and diastolic blood pressure (SMD, −0.46; 95% CI −0.73 to −0.20; P = 0.0005), and resting heart rate (SMD, −0.87; 95% CI −1.47 to −0.27; P = 0.005). The aggregated results of meta-analyses examining the effect of Baduanjin Qigong on leg power, cardiopulmonary endurance, and pulmonary function remain unclear because of a small number of studies. Conclusions. The aggregated results from this systematic review show that Baduanjin Qigong practice is beneficial for quality of life, sleep quality, balance, handgrip strength, trunk flexibility, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and resting heart rate. Further studies are necessary to confirm the effects of Baduanjin Qigong on leg power, cardiopulmonary endurance, and pulmonary function (e.g., vital capacity), while considering a long-term follow-up.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5359459/

Bikram Yoga Does Not Affect Cardiovascular Risk Factors with Healthy Participants

Bikram Yoga Does Not Affect Cardiovascular Risk Factors with Healthy Participants

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“those with a regular yoga practice are likely to adopt a healthy lifestyle, and to experience lower levels of perceived stress and depression than runners or inactive adults.” – B. Grace Bullock

 

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). A myriad of treatments has been developed for heart disease including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. But the safest effective treatments are lifestyle changes. These include quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses. Other safe and effective treatments are contemplative practices, such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. These practices have also been shown to be helpful for producing the kinds of lifestyle changes needed such as smoking cessation, weight reduction, and stress reduction.

 

Yoga is a mindfulness practice that has been shown to improve physical well-being and cardiovascular health. Bikram Yoga is somewhat unique yoga practice as it employs a set sequence of 26 poses (asanas) and two breathing exercises. It is practiced in a heated environment (105°F, 40.6°C, 40% humidity) and there is a unique programmed instructional dialogue. The hot environment is thought to soften the muscles making them more pliable and loosen the joints making them more flexible allowing the practitioner to go deeper into poses. The sweating that occurs is thought to help remove toxins and impurities.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of a 16-week Bikram yoga program on heart rate variability and associated cardiovascular disease risk factors in stressed and sedentary adults: A randomized controlled trial.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5399826/

Hewett and colleagues examined the effectiveness of Bikram yoga to alter cardiovascular risk factors. They recruited sedentary, stressed, adults and randomly assigned them to receive either a 16-week, 90 minute, 3 times per week, Bikram Yoga program or a no-treatment control condition. They were measured before and after training for heart rate variability, resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate, c-reactive protein, triglycerides, total cholesterol, low-density- and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, total cholesterol to HDL ratio, and fasting blood glucose, height, weight, waist circumference, body composition, health status, and attendance at yoga sessions.

 

Surprisingly, they did not find any significant group differences in any of the measures before or after training. But, when they looked at attendance ay the Bikram Yoga sessions they found that the more sessions attended the greater the decrease in diastolic blood pressure, body fat percentage, fat mass, and body mass index. So, there appeared to be some modest benefits of high levels of attendance to Bikram Yoga sessions.

 

These are disappointing results. But, the lack of change produced in cardiovascular risk factors by participation in a Bikram Yoga program may have resulted from the fact that the participants were healthy, although sedentary, to begin with. It is possible that significant effects would have been evident if unhealthy participants were examined. On the other hand, it is possible that this form of yoga is simply not an effective means of reducing cardiovascular disease risk in healthy, sedentary individuals.

 

“Yoga has a powerful effect on stress and hypertension and can help people reduce the amount of medication they need. . . researchers reported significant reductions in blood pressure for interventions incorporating three basic elements of yoga practice: postures, meditation, and breathing. “ – Amy Wheeler

 

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

Hewett, Z. L., Pumpa, K. L., Smith, C. A., Fahey, P. P., & Cheema, B. S. (2017). Effect of a 16-week Bikram yoga program on heart rate variability and associated cardiovascular disease risk factors in stressed and sedentary adults: A randomized controlled trial. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 17, 226. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-017-1740-1

 

Abstract

Background

Chronic activation of the stress-response can contribute to cardiovascular disease risk, particularly in sedentary individuals. This study investigated the effect of a Bikram yoga intervention on the high frequency power component of heart rate variability (HRV) and associated cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors (i.e. additional domains of HRV, hemodynamic, hematologic, anthropometric and body composition outcome measures) in stressed and sedentary adults.

Methods

Eligible adults were randomized to an experimental group (n = 29) or a no treatment control group (n = 34). Experimental group participants were instructed to attend three to five supervised Bikram yoga classes per week for 16 weeks at local studios. Outcome measures were assessed at baseline (week 0) and completion (week 17).

Results

Sixty-three adults (37.2 ± 10.8 years, 79% women) were included in the intention-to-treat analysis. The experimental group attended 27 ± 18 classes. Analyses of covariance revealed no significant change in the high-frequency component of HRV (p = 0.912, partial η 2 = 0.000) or in any secondary outcome measure between groups over time. However, regression analyses revealed that higher attendance in the experimental group was associated with significant reductions in diastolic blood pressure (p = 0.039; partial η 2 = 0.154), body fat percentage (p = 0.001, partial η 2 = 0.379), fat mass (p = 0.003, partial η 2 = 0.294) and body mass index (p = 0.05, partial η 2 = 0.139).

Conclusions

A 16-week Bikram yoga program did not increase the high frequency power component of HRV or any other CVD risk factors investigated. As revealed by post hoc analyses, low adherence likely contributed to the null effects. Future studies are required to address barriers to adherence to better elucidate the dose-response effects of Bikram yoga practice as a medium to lower stress-related CVD risk.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5399826/

 

Improve Elderly Blood Pressure and Waist Circumference with Tai Chi

Improve Elderly Blood Pressure and Waist Circumference with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“For those with limited space, tai chi may be an easier and more convenient than brisk walking as an anti-aging choice. Previous studies have shown tai chi also improves balance and may help boost brain functioning.” – Shinn-Zong Lin

 

Metabolic Syndrome is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It generally results from overweight and abdominal obesity and includes high blood pressure, insulin resistance and elevation of plasma cholesterol and triglycerides. It is an important risk factor as it increases the risk of developing type-2 diabetes five-fold and heart attack or stroke three-fold. Metabolic Syndrome incidence has been rising rapidly and it currently affects 34% of U.S. adults. Needless to say, this is a major health problem. The good news is that timely treatment can prevent or reverse the risk. The simplest treatment is simply exercise and weight loss.

 

The incidence of metabolic syndrome is much higher in the elderly with 50% of people over 60 years of age suffering from metabolic syndrome. Exercise that is appropriate for younger individuals is often not appropriate for the elderly. Tai Chi is a mindfulness practice and gentle exercise that has been found to be safe and effective for the elderly. Hence, it would seem reasonable to test the effectiveness of Tai Chi for metabolic syndrome in the elderly.

 

In today’s Research News article “The effects of Tai Chi on waist circumference and blood pressure in the elderly.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5300833/

Lee tested the effect of Tai Chi on the blood pressure and waist circumference of the elderly. She recruited sedentary individuals over 65 years of age and randomly assigned them to groups that practiced Tai Chi or a control group that practiced solely the warm up and cool down portions of the program. Tai Chi was practiced for 60 minutes, 5 times per week for 6 weeks. The participants were measured for blood pressure and waist circumference before and after the 6-week practice period.

 

Lee found that practicing Tai Chi produced a significant reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure and waist circumference in the elderly participants. There were no recorded injuries or adverse effects from the practice. Since metabolic syndrome is associated with excess body fat and high blood pressure, these results suggest that Tai Chi practice may be a safe and effective treatment to reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome in the elderly. Tai Chi has also been shown to improve the elderly mentally and physically including the risk of falls. So, it would seem reasonable to encourage the participation of the elderly in Tai Chi practice for their health and wellbeing.

 

So, improve elderly blood pressure and waist circumference with Tai Chi.

 

“Tai chi is often described as “meditation in motion,” but it might well be called “medication in motion.” There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice, which originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health problems. And you can get started even if you aren’t in top shape or the best of health.” – Harvard Women’s Health Watch

 

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

Lee, Y. M. (2017). The effects of Tai Chi on waist circumference and blood pressure in the elderly. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 29(1), 172–175. http://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.29.172

 

Abstract

[Purpose] The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of Tai Chi on waist circumference and blood pressure in the elderly. The present study used a nonequivalent control group pretest-posttest design. [Subjects and Methods] Sixty-eight elderly individuals residing in J city were divided into 2 groups: 34 in the experimental group, who received Tai Chi training for 6 weeks, and 34 in the control group, who did not receive Tai Chi training. Simplified Yang style 24-form Tai Chi was used as the intervention, which was conducted for 60 minutes per session, 5 sessions per week, for a total of 6 weeks. In each session, subjects in the experimental group conducted 10 minutes of warm-up exercises, 45 minutes of Tai Chi, and 5 minutes of cool-down exercises. Waist circumference and blood pressure were measured before and after the 6-week intervention. [Results] Waist circumference and blood pressure decreased significantly after the 6-week intervention in the experimental group compared with the control group. [Conclusion] Tai Chi can be used as an effective intervention to improve waist circumference and blood pressure in the elderly.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5300833/

 

Improve Heart Failure Patient Longevity with Spirituality

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Improve Heart Failure Patient Longevity with Spirituality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Although difficult to study, spirituality has been evaluated and deemed to have a beneficial effect on multiple measures including global quality of life, depression and medical compliance in the treatment of patients with heart failure.” – J Naqhi

 

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. Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a major type of cardiovascular disease. “CHF is a chronic progressive condition that affects the pumping power of your heart muscles. While often referred to simply as “heart failure,” CHF specifically refers to the stage in which fluid builds up around the heart and causes it to pump inefficiently” (Healthline).

 

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a very serious life-threatening condition. About 5.7 million adults in the United States have congestive heart failure. One in 9 deaths include heart failure as a contributing cause. The seriousness of CHF is underscored by the fact that about half of people who develop CHF die within 5 years of diagnosis. Hence, effective treatment is very important. There is a myriad of treatments that have been developed to treat CHF including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. Importantly, lifestyle changes have proved to be quite effective. These include quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses.

 

Spirituality, a sense of inner peace and harmony, and religiosity are known to help with a wide range of physical and psychological problems. So, it would make sense to investigate the relationship of spirituality and religiosity to the treatment of congestive heart failure. In today’s Research News article “Spiritual Peace Predicts 5-Year Mortality in Congestive Heart Failure Patient.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1458465060844082/?type=3&theater

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

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4760860/.

Park and colleagues recruited a large sample of patients who had experienced congestive heart failure (CHF) of at least moderate severity. They were 64% male and averaged 69 years of age. The researchers measured severity of CHF, other health conditions, smoking, alcohol consumption, engagement in health behaviors, depression, social support, attendance at religious services, and spiritual peace. The patients were followed over a five year period to establish mortality rates.

 

At the five-year follow-up, almost a third (32%) of the patients had died. They found that age, other health conditions, and depression contributed to mortality. Controlling for these variables they found that smoking nearly tripled the risk of death, while alcohol consumption mildly reduced the risk. Adhering to a healthy lifestyle cut the risk in half and spirituality and engagement in religious practice was associated with greater engagement in healthy lifestyles. Controlling for all of these variables they found that spirituality was associated with a 20% reduction in mortality.

 

These results suggest that controlling lifestyle is critical for survival after CHF. This includes reducing smoking and increasing healthy lifestyle behaviors. But, in addition to these important factors, spirituality, but not engagement in religious practices, improves longevity. Although spirituality is associated with lifestyle, the analysis suggests that spirituality’s association with improved longevity occurs independently of lifestyle factors. These results have to be interpreted with caution since they are correlative and cannot prove causation. But, the fact that spirituality predicts longevity over a 5-year period after measurement, is compatible with an interpretation that spirituality causally contributes to longevity.

 

These results suggest that just being religious is not enough. One must be spiritual in order to obtain the longevity benefits. So, it is not enough to just believe in a greater power or attend religious services. Rather, a sense of spiritual peace and harmony is required. To some extent, this makes sense as this would reduce stress which is known to exacerbate disease processes. In addition, spirituality has been shown to improve adherence to treatment regimens for heart failure and this by itself could account for improved longevity. Regardless, the results make it clear that being spiritual can help extend the lives of patients with congestive heart failure (CHF).

 

So, improve heart failure patient longevity with spirituality.

 

“We found that more gratitude in these patients was associated with better mood, better sleep, less fatigue and lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers related to cardiac health,” – Paul J. Mills

 

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

Park, C. L., George, L., Aldwin, C. M., Choun, S., Suresh, D. P., & Bliss, D. (2016). Spiritual Peace Predicts 5-Year Mortality in Congestive Heart Failure Patients. Health Psychology : Official Journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association, 35(3), 203–210. http://doi.org/10.1037/hea0000271

 

Abstract

Objective: Spirituality is favorably related to depression, quality of life, hospitalizations, and other important outcomes in congestive heart failure (CHF) patients but has not been examined as a predictor of mortality risk in this population. Given the well-known difficulties in managing CHF, we hypothesized that spirituality would be associated with lower mortality risk, controlling for baseline demographics, functional status, health behaviors, and religiousness.

Method: Participants were 191 CHF patients (64% male; Mage = 68.6 years, SD = 10.1) who completed a baseline survey and were then followed for five years.

Results: Nearly one third of the sample (32%) died during the study period. Controlling for demographics and health status, smoking more than doubled the risk of mortality, while alcohol consumption was associated with slightly lower risk of mortality. Importantly, adherence to healthy lifestyle recommendations was associated with halved mortality risk. While both religion and spirituality were associated with better health behaviors at baseline in bivariate analyses, a proportional hazard model showed that only spirituality was significantly associated with reduced mortality risk (by 20%), controlling for demographics, health status, and health behaviors.

Conclusions: Experiencing spiritual peace, along with adherence to a healthy lifestyle, were better predictors of mortality risk in this sample of CHF patients than were physical health indicators such as functional status and comorbidity. Future research might profitably examine the efficacy of attending to spiritual issues along with standard lifestyle interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4760860/

 

Improve Circulation with Tai Chi

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By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Tai chi is often described as “meditation in motion,” but it might well be called “medication in motion.” There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice, which originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health problems. And you can get started even if you aren’t in top shape or the best of health.” – Harvard Women’s Health Watch

 

Arthritis is a chronic disease that most commonly affects the joints. Depending on the type of arthritis, symptoms may include pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, and decreased range of motion. It affects an estimated 52.5 million adults in the United States. It is associated with aging as arthritis occurs in only 7% of adults ages 18–44, while 30% adults ages 45–64 are affected, and 50% of adults ages 65 or older. Due to complications associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the lifespan for people with RA may be shortened by 10 years. This is due to a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, with the risk more than double that of non-RA individuals.

 

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). Rheumatoid arthritis is associated with high levels of inflammation and inflammation damages blood vessels. It can lead to hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis) which in turn leads to cardiovascular disease. So, there is a need for treatments to reduce inflammation and hardening of the arteries in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients.

 

Contemplative practices have 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 including a reduction in the inflammatory response. 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 hardening of the arteries in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “The beneficial effects of Tai Chi exercise on endothelial function and arterial stiffness in elderly women with rheumatoid arthritis.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1440063292684259/?type=3&theater

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

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4718020/

Shin and colleagues recruited female rheumatoid arthritis patients (average 64 years old) and randomly assigned them to either receive 3 months of Tai Chi training or education about rheumatoid arthritis, its effects and methods of control. At the end of training they found that, in comparison to the education group, the Tai Chi group had a significant (32%) improvements in the ability of the blood vessels to dilatate in response to blood flows, (6%) reduction in arterial stiffness, and a significant decrease in total cholesterol. They found that the effectiveness of Tai Chi to improve the blood vessels was independent of its effects on cholesterol.

 

These results are impressive and important. Tai Chi exercise was effective in reducing the hardening of the arteries and blood cholesterol levels that normally are problematic with rheumatoid arthritis. This suggests that Tai Chi practice may reduce the cardiovascular disease which is a potentially fatal consequence of rheumatoid arthritis. Importantly, since rheumatoid arthritis impairs movement, 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 including rheumatoid arthritis. So, tai chi is an excellent light exercise program that can improve hardening of the arteries and cholesterol levels and potentially reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and death in rheumatoid arthritis patients.

 

So, improve circulation with Tai Chi.

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

Qi gong and tai chi are relaxing ways to improve your flexibility and balance. Both are great ways to stay active and vital. The gentle, flowing movements are easy on the joints.” – Melinda Ratini

 

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

 

Study Summary

Shin, J.-H., Lee, Y., Kim, S. G., Choi, B. Y., Lee, H.-S., & Bang, S.-Y. (2015). The beneficial effects of Tai Chi exercise on endothelial function and arterial stiffness in elderly women with rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Research & Therapy, 17, 380. http://doi.org/10.1186/s13075-015-0893-x

 

Abstract

Background: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been known to be associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of Tai Chi exercise on CVD risk in elderly women with RA.

Method: In total, 56 female patients with RA were assigned to either a Tai Chi exercise group (29 patients) receiving a 3-month exercise intervention once a week or a control group (27 patients) receiving general information about the benefits of exercise. All participants were assessed at baseline and at 3 months for RA disease activity (Disease Activity Score 28 and Routine Assessment of Patient Index Data 3), functional disability (Health Assessment Questionnaire), CVD risk factors (blood pressure, lipids profile, body composition, and smoking), and three atherosclerotic measurements: carotid intima-media thickness, flow-mediated dilatation (FMD), and brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV).

Results: FMD, representative of endothelial function, significantly increased in the Tai Chi exercise group (initial 5.85 ± 2.05 versus 3 months 7.75 ± 2.53 %) compared with the control group (initial 6.31 ± 2.12 versus 3 months 5.78 ± 2.13 %) (P = 1.76 × 10−3). Moreover, baPWV, representative of arterial stiffness, significantly decreased in the Tai Chi exercise group (initial 1693.7 ± 348.3 versus 3 months 1600.1 ± 291.0 cm/s) compared with the control group (initial 1740.3 ± 185.3 versus 3 months 1792.8 ± 326.1 cm/s) (P = 1.57 × 10−2). In addition, total cholesterol decreased significantly in the Tai Chi exercise group compared with the control group (−7.8 ± 15.5 versus 2.9 ± 12.2 mg/dl, P = 2.72 × 10−2); other changes in RA-related characteristics were not significantly different between the two groups. Tai Chi exercise remained significantly associated with improved endothelial function (FMD; P = 4.32 × 10−3) and arterial stiffness (baPWV; P = 2.22 × 10−2) after adjustment for improvement in total cholesterol level.

Conclusion: Tai Chi exercise improved endothelial dysfunction and arterial stiffness in elderly women with RA, suggesting that it can be a useful behavioral strategy for CVD prevention in patients with RA.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4718020/

 

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/