Heighten Mental and Physical Well-Being with Mindfulness Training

Heighten Mental and Physical Well-Being with Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others. If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered that mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. Mindfulness can: help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, , improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.” – Harvard Health

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. Techniques such as Mindfulness Training, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as well as Yoga practice and Tai Chi or Qigong practice have been demonstrated to be effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.

 

This research suggests that engaging in mindfulness practices can make you a better human being, with greater mental and physical well-being. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Training: Can It Create Superheroes?” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00613/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_951898_69_Psycho_20190404_arts_A), Jones and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the effects of mindfulness training on psychological and physical well-being.

 

They found that the published research presented substantial findings that mindfulness training enhanced physical functioning including improved health, decreased heart rate, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood cortisol and resistance to disease, including improved stress responding, increased immune system response, and decreased inflammatory responses. They also report the mindfulness training produces tended to protect against the mental and physical effects of aging, including reduced cognitive decline and reduced brain deterioration. In addition, they report that mindfulness training produces improved cognitive processing, including improved heightened attentional ability, improved neural processing, and alterations of brain systems underlying consciousness. Mindfulness training also produced greater resilience and fearlessness, including improved emotion regulation, reduced responding to negative stimuli, lower pain responding, and lower fear conditioning. Mindfulness training also produced more self-less and pro-social behaviors, including increased altruism, increased kindness, and compassion. Finally, they report that mindfulness training can produce some control over autonomic responses.

 

This review suggests that people who engage in mindfulness training become superior in mental and physical health to non-practitioners and have superior cognitive abilities particularly in regard to attention and higher-level thinking. This doesn’t exactly make them “superheroes” but rather better versions of themselves.

 

So, heighten mental and physical well-being with mindfulness training.

 

Ultimately, engaging in mindfulness meditation cultivates our ability to both focus and broaden our attention, which is a practical way to elicit psychological well-being.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

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

 

Jones P (2019) Mindfulness Training: Can It Create Superheroes? Front. Psychol. 10:613. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00613

 

With the emergence of the science of heroism there now exists both theoretical and empirical literature on the characteristics of our everyday hero. We seek to expand this inquiry and ask what could be the causes and conditions of a superhero. To address this we investigate the origins of mindfulness, Buddhist psychology and the assertion that its practitioners who have attained expertise in mindfulness practices can develop supernormal capabilities. Examining first their foundational eight “jhana” states (levels of attention) and the six consequent “abhinnas” (siddhis or special abilities) that arise from such mental mastery, we then explore any evidence that mindfulness practices have unfolded the supernormal potential of its practitioners. We found a growing base of empirical literature suggesting some practitioners exhibit indicators of enhanced functioning including elevated physical health and resistance to disease, increased immunity to aging and improved cognitive processing, greater resilience and fearlessness, more self-less and pro-social behaviors, some control over normally autonomic responses, and possibly some paranormal functionality. These improvements in normal human functioning provide some evidence that there are practices that develop these abilities, and as such we might want to consider adopting them to develop this capability. There are however insufficient studies of expert meditators and more research of adepts is called for that explores the relationship between levels of attentional skill and increases in functionality. We propose in search of the superhero, that if conventional mindfulness training can already augment mental and physical capabilities, a more serious inquiry and translation of its advanced methods into mainstream psychological theory is warranted.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00613/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_951898_69_Psycho_20190404_arts_A

Have Consistent Physiological Responses to Differing Circumstances with Mindfulness

Have Consistent Physiological Responses to Differing Circumstances with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Heart rate variability differs from basic heart rate tracking that measures beats per minute in that it actually measures the time variance between heartbeats. With this heart rate variability, you can actually get a good picture of the resilience of the heart organ, which is a good predictor of both well-being and longevity.” – Kyle Pearce

 

In our lives we are confronted with a variety of situations and environments. In order to successfully navigate these differing situations, we must be able to adapt and self-regulate. The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is designed to adapt physiologically to the varying demands on us. It is composed of 2 divisions; the sympathetic division underlies activation, including increases in heart rate and blood pressure, while the parasympathetic division underlies relaxation, including decreases in heart rate and blood pressure. A measure of the balance between these systems is provided by the variability of the heart rate.

 

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) refers to the change in the time intervals between consecutive heart beats. Higher levels of HRV are indicative of flexibility in the Autonomic Nervous System and are associated with adaptability to varying environments. Mindfulness has been associated with a psychological flexibility and a greater ability to adapt appropriately to differing situations. It makes sense then to investigate the relationship of mindfulness to and Heart Rate Variability (HRV).

 

In today’s Research News article “Trait Mindfulness Is Associated With the Self-Similarity of Heart Rate Variability.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00314/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_925884_69_Psycho_20190305_arts_A ), Sun and colleagues recruited college students and had them complete a measures of mindfulness. The students were also measured for heart rate variability (HRV) under 4 3-minute conditions, “a calming phase, a mental arithmetic task, a recovery phase, and mindfulness practice.”

 

They found that the participants level of mindfulness was not significantly associated with any direct measures of heart rate variability. Rather, mindfulness was associated with the consistency of heart rate variability between the response on different tasks. Hence, students high in mindfulness tended to have heart rate variability responses in the different phases that were very similar. In other words, heart rate variability during calming, mental arithmetic, and mindfulness practice were very consistent.

 

These results are correlational and as such conclusions about causation cannot be reached. But it can be speculated that mindfulness keeps the responses of the autonomic nervous system consistent making it easier to cope with varying circumstances. This level consistent responding may promote health and well-being. This suggests that greater focus on what is happening in the moment (mindfulness) may promote the ability to regulate one’s physiological responses and thereby to adapt to differing circumstances.

 

So, have consistent physiological responses to differing circumstances with mindfulness.

 

“Meditation is one technique that may help improve Heart Rate Variability (HRV) in both the short term and long-term. The end goal is not just to increase HRV, but it is to help the body better recover from stress related damages.” – Sam Sly

 

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

 

Sun S, Hu C, Pan J, Liu C and Huang M (2019) Trait Mindfulness Is Associated With the Self-Similarity of Heart Rate Variability. Front. Psychol. 10:314. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00314

 

Previous studies have linked trait mindfulness with better self-regulation and adaptation. Heart rate variability (HRV) is a good physiological indicator of the capacity for self-regulation and adaptation. The present study explored the relationship between trait mindfulness and HRV from the viewpoint of crosstalking between different HRV parameter pairs, which would reflect the dynamic interactions between each pair of HRV parameters in different processes. We measured the trait mindfulness of seventy-four undergraduate students and recorded nine HRV parameters during the following four consecutive experimental phases: (1) calming phase, (2) mental arithmetic task phase, (3) recovery phase, and (4) mindfulness practice phase. The relationship between trait mindfulness and HRV was explored at the following three levels: (1) the absolute level, i.e., HRV parameters in four different states, (2) the difference-change level, i.e., differences in HRV parameters between different states, and (3) the crosstalking level, i.e., self-similarity of crosstalking HRV parameter pairs. The results supported the following hypothesis: trait mindfulness, as measured by the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), was significantly and positively correlated with the self-similarity of crosstalking HRV parameter pairs but was not significantly correlated with the HRV parameters at the difference-change and absolute levels. These findings indicate that as trait mindfulness increases, the ability to maintain ANS function homeostasis improves.

HIGHLIGHTS

– Trait mindfulness is associated with better self-regulation and adaptation.

– Heart rate variability (HRV) is a good physiological indicator of the capacity for self-regulation and adaptation.

– Trait mindfulness is significantly correlated with self-similarity of crosstalking HRV parameter pairs but not with the HRV parameters at the difference-change or absolute levels.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00314/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_925884_69_Psycho_20190305_arts_A

 

Decrease Hypertension with Yoga Practice

Decrease Hypertension with Yoga Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga, when performed mindfully, can reduce this type of stress-induced hypertension, while addressing its underlying causes. It pacifies the sympathetic nervous system and slows down the heart, while teaching the muscles and mind to relax deeply.” – Marla Apt

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control.

 

High blood pressure, because it doesn’t have any primary symptoms, is usually only diagnosed by direct measurement of blood pressure usually by a health care professional. When hypertension is chronically present over three quarters of patients are treated with antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely.

 

Obviously, there is a need for alternative to drug treatments for hypertension. Mindfulness practices have been shown to aid in controlling hypertension. Exercise is also known to help. So, yoga practice, which combines mindfulness practice with exercise would seem to be a good candidate practice for the treatment of hypertension. Indeed, yoga practice appears to lower blood pressure in hypertension. But yoga practices can contain a number of components including meditation, breathing exercises, postures, chanting, and mantras. It is not known, whether the postures included in the practice are necessary for the beneficial effects of yoga practice on hypertension.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga in Arterial Hypertension.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6375068/ ), Cramer and colleagues recruited adult patients with primary arterial hypertension receiving antihypertensive medication. They were randomly assigned to receive either yoga training that either included postures or without postures, or a wait-list control condition. The yoga practice consisted of 90 minutes, once a week, for 12 weeks of meditation, relaxation techniques, and postures for the yoga with postures group. The participants were encouraged and provided materials to practice daily at home. They were measured before and after training and 26 weeks later for systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

 

They found that at the end of training the yoga group without postures had a greater reduction in systolic blood pressure than either the control group or the group with yoga postures. But, at follow-up, 26 weeks later, the yoga group that included postures had a greater reduction in systolic blood pressure than either the control group or the group without yoga postures. Diastolic blood pressure was not affected. It should be noted that these benefits were obtained in patients taking antihypertensive medications. So, the yoga practice benefits supplemented those of the drugs.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that on the short-term yoga practice without postures is best for blood pressure reduction in patients with hypertension while for the long-term yoga with postures is best. The relaxation produced by practicing meditation and relaxation may have the immediate consequence of decreasing blood pressure but doesn’t appear to be sustained while the exercise involved in postures, like occurs with other aerobic exercises, may have more long-term benefits for the cardiovascular system.

 

These benefits are important as reducing blood pressure in patients with hypertension is important for their health, longevity, and well-being. Yoga appears to be a safe, effective, and relatively inexpensive treatment. In addition, yoga practice has psychological and social benefits that can help to maintain practice over the long-term.

 

So, decrease hypertension with yoga practice.

 

“Yoga, along with deep breathing exercises, meditation and inner reflection, is a good adjunctive and integrative cardiovascular approach to better health, including lowering blood pressure, as this data suggests,” – David Friedman

 

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

 

Cramer, H., Sellin, C., Schumann, D., & Dobos, G. (2018). Yoga in Arterial Hypertension. Deutsches Arzteblatt international, 115(50), 833-839. DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2018.0833

 

Abstract

Background

Yoga seems to exert its effect against arterial hypertension mainly through the associated breathing and meditation techniques, and less so through yoga postures. The goal of this trial was to compare the blood pressure–lowering effect of yoga interventions with and without yoga postures in patients with arterial hypertension.

Methods

75 patients taking medications for arterial hypertension (72% women, mean age 58.7 ± 9.5 years) were randomized into three groups: a yoga intervention group with yoga postures (25 patients, of whom 5 dropped out of the trial before its end), a yoga intervention group without yoga postures (25 patients, 3 dropouts), and a wait list control group (25 patients, one dropout). The interventions consisted of 90 minutes of yoga practice per week for twelve weeks. The data collectors, who were blinded to the intervention received, assessed the primary outcome measures “systolic 24-hour blood pressure” and “diastolic 24-hour blood pressure” before and after the intervention. In this report, we also present the findings on secondary outcome measures, including follow-up data.

Results

After the intervention, the systolic 24-hour blood pressure in the yoga intervention group without yoga postures was significantly lower than in the control group (group difference [?]= -3.8 mmHg; [95% confidence interval (CI): (-0.3; -7.4) p = 0.035]); it was also significantly lower than in the yoga intervention group with yoga postures (? = -3.2 mmHg; 95% CI: [-6.3; -0.8]; p = 0.045). Diastolic blood pressures did not differ significantly across groups. No serious adverse events were encountered in the course of the trial.

Conclusion

In accordance with the findings of earlier studies, we found that only yoga without yoga postures induced a short-term lowering of ambulatory systolic blood pressure. Yoga is safe and effective in patients taking medications for arterial hypertension and thus can be recommended as an additional treatment option for persons in this category.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6375068/

 

Reduce Stress and Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function with Tai Chi or Yoga

Reduce Stress and Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function with Tai Chi or Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The rate of individuals suffering from autonomic nervous system dysfunctions is fast on the rise, due to our high stress and stimulative 21st-century lifestyles. However unknown to many practitioners, there are several natural therapies which are proven to help support the balance of the autonomic nervous system such as meditation and often have fewer side-effects and are better tolerated than many pharmaceutical medications.” –  NaturalHealthBlogger

 

There is an accumulating volume of research findings to demonstrate that Mind-body practices have highly beneficial effects on the health and well-being of humans. These include yoga, tai chi, and qigong, among many others. Because of their proven benefits the application of these practices to relieving human suffering has skyrocketed. Tai Chi has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevity. Tai Chi training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements.  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.

 

One way that these Mind-body practices may have their beneficial effects is by providing balance in the autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic division underlies activation while the parasympathetic division underlies relaxation. When these divisions are out of balance the individual may be overly stressed or overly sedentary. Appropriate balance is important for health and well-being. A measure of balance is provided by the variability of the heart rate. Moderated heart rate variability reflects balance in the autonomic nervous system.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mind⁻Body Exercises (Tai Chi/Yoga) on Heart Rate Variability Parameters and Perceived Stress: A Systematic Review with 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/PMC6262541/ ), Zou and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of tai chi and yoga on a measure of autonomic balance; heart rate variability. They discovered 17 research publications reporting on research studies of fair to high quality.

 

They report that after both tai chi or yoga practice there are large significant reductions in perceived stress levels. Also, after practice there were small, albeit significant reductions in the normalized low-frequency component of heart rate variation and the ratio of low frequency to high frequency variations and significant increases in the normalized high-frequency component. These components are thought to be indicative of sympathetic and vagal modulation, sympathetic modulation, and sympathetic activity. These effects on heart rate variation components suggest that after tai chi and yoga practice there is better balance in the autonomic nervous system. Additionally, the published studies indicate that while both tai chi and yoga practice decrease stress and improve autonomic balance, that a minimum of 90 minutes per week of yoga practice produces better results.

 

These results are interesting and important. They suggest that tai chi and especially yoga practice promote health and well-being and may do so by reducing perceived levels of stress and balancing the autonomic nervous system. Yoga practice is generally a more intense exercise and it is likely that this greater intensity of exercise is responsible for yoga’s superiority. But Tai Chi is gentle, safe, and easily practiced conveniently without a professional teacher. Hence, it may be better adapted to integration into the daily lifestyle of the individual.

 

So, reduce stress and improve autonomic nervous system function with tai chi or yoga.

 

Practicing yoga is an excellent way to stimulate and bring circuitry to the important parasympathetic nervous system. The gentle movements and slow rhythmic breathing slow the heart and blood pressure. Yoga redirects blood flow to the reproductive and digestive organs. Regular yoga practice results in a sustained state of strength and health, as well as mind and body balance. Tai Chi is widely used for its variety of health benefits and its adaptability to any age or level of fitness. It is an effective technique that enhances your body’s ability to use the mind to get in touch with the body through the nervous system. The results of continued practice include increased awareness, strengthened nerves, and better coordination, to name a few.” – Aleksandra Eifler

 

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., Wei, G. X., Huang, T., Yeung, A. S., Neto, O. B., Chen, K. W., … Hui, S. S. (2018). Effects of Mind⁻Body Exercises (Tai Chi/Yoga) on Heart Rate Variability Parameters and Perceived Stress: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of clinical medicine, 7(11), 404. doi:10.3390/jcm7110404

 

Abstract

Background: Heart rate variability (HRV) as an accurate, noninvasive measure of the Autonomous Nervous System (ANS) can reflect mental health (e.g., stress, depression, or anxiety). Tai Chi and Yoga (Tai Chi/Yoga), as the most widely practiced mind–body exercises, have shown positive outcomes of mental health. To date, no systematic review regarding the long-lasting effects of Tai Chi/Yoga on HRV parameters and perceived stress has been conducted. Objective: To critically evaluate the existing literature on this topic. Methods: Five electronic databases (Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus, SportDiscus and Cochrane Library) were searched from the start of the research project to July 2018. Study selection, data extraction, and study quality assessment were independently carried out by two reviewers. The potentially identified randomized controlled trials (RCT) reported the useful quantitative data that were included only for meta-analysis. Results: meta-analysis of 17 medium-to-high quality RCTs showed significantly beneficial effects on HRV parameters (normalized low-frequency, Hedge’s g = −0.39, 95% CI −0.39 to −0.56, p < 0.001, I2 = 11.62%; normalized high-frequency, Hedge’s g = 0.37, 95% CI 0.22 to −0.52, p < 0.001, I2 = 0%; low-frequency to high-frequency ratio, Hedge’s g = −0.58, 95% CI −0.81 to −0.35, p < 0.001, I2 = 53.78%) and stress level (Hedge’s g = −0.80, 95% CI −1.17 to −0.44, p < 0.001, I2 = 68.54%). Conclusions: Stress reduction may be attributed to sympathetic-vagal balance modulated by mind–body exercises. Tai Chi/Yoga could be an alternative method for stress reduction for people who live under high stress or negative emotions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6262541/

 

Reduce Stress and Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function with Tai Chi or Yoga

Reduce Stress and Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function with Tai Chi or Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The rate of individuals suffering from autonomic nervous system dysfunctions is fast on the rise, due to our high stress and stimulative 21st-century lifestyles. However unknown to many practitioners, there are several natural therapies which are proven to help support the balance of the autonomic nervous system such as meditation and often have fewer side-effects and are better tolerated than many pharmaceutical medications.” –  NaturalHealthBlogger

 

There is an accumulating volume of research findings to demonstrate that Mind-body practices have highly beneficial effects on the health and well-being of humans. These include yoga, tai chi, and qigong, among many others. Because of their proven benefits the application of these practices to relieving human suffering has skyrocketed. Tai Chi has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevity. Tai Chi training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements.  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.

 

One way that these Mind-body practices may have their beneficial effects is by providing balance in the autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic division underlies activation while the parasympathetic division underlies relaxation. When these divisions are out of balance the individual may be overly stressed or overly sedentary. Appropriate balance is important for health and well-being. A measure of balance is provided by the variability of the heart rate. Moderated heart rate variability reflects balance in the autonomic nervous system.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mind⁻Body Exercises (Tai Chi/Yoga) on Heart Rate Variability Parameters and Perceived Stress: A Systematic Review with 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/PMC6262541/ ), Zou and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of tai chi and yoga on a measure of autonomic balance; heart rate variability. They discovered 17 research publications reporting on research studies of fair to high quality.

 

They report that after both tai chi or yoga practice there are large significant reductions in perceived stress levels. Also, after practice there were small, albeit significant reductions in the normalized low-frequency component of heart rate variation and the ratio of low frequency to high frequency variations and significant increases in the normalized high-frequency component. These components are thought to be indicative of sympathetic and vagal modulation, sympathetic modulation, and sympathetic activity. These effects on heart rate variation components suggest that after tai chi and yoga practice there is better balance in the autonomic nervous system. Additionally, the published studies indicate that while both tai chi and yoga practice decrease stress and improve autonomic balance, that a minimum of 90 minutes per week of yoga practice produces better results.

 

These results are interesting and important. They suggest that tai chi and especially yoga practice promote health and well-being and may do so by reducing perceived levels of stress and balancing the autonomic nervous system. Yoga practice is generally a more intense exercise and it is likely that this greater intensity of exercise is responsible for yoga’s superiority. But Tai Chi is gentle, safe, and easily practiced conveniently without a professional teacher. Hence, it may be better adapted to integration into the daily lifestyle of the individual.

 

So, reduce stress and improve autonomic nervous system function with tai chi or yoga.

 

Practicing yoga is an excellent way to stimulate and bring circuitry to the important parasympathetic nervous system. The gentle movements and slow rhythmic breathing slow the heart and blood pressure. Yoga redirects blood flow to the reproductive and digestive organs. Regular yoga practice results in a sustained state of strength and health, as well as mind and body balance. Tai Chi is widely used for its variety of health benefits and its adaptability to any age or level of fitness. It is an effective technique that enhances your body’s ability to use the mind to get in touch with the body through the nervous system. The results of continued practice include increased awareness, strengthened nerves, and better coordination, to name a few.” – Aleksandra Eifler

 

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., Wei, G. X., Huang, T., Yeung, A. S., Neto, O. B., Chen, K. W., … Hui, S. S. (2018). Effects of Mind⁻Body Exercises (Tai Chi/Yoga) on Heart Rate Variability Parameters and Perceived Stress: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of clinical medicine, 7(11), 404. doi:10.3390/jcm7110404

 

Abstract

Background: Heart rate variability (HRV) as an accurate, noninvasive measure of the Autonomous Nervous System (ANS) can reflect mental health (e.g., stress, depression, or anxiety). Tai Chi and Yoga (Tai Chi/Yoga), as the most widely practiced mind–body exercises, have shown positive outcomes of mental health. To date, no systematic review regarding the long-lasting effects of Tai Chi/Yoga on HRV parameters and perceived stress has been conducted. Objective: To critically evaluate the existing literature on this topic. Methods: Five electronic databases (Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus, SportDiscus and Cochrane Library) were searched from the start of the research project to July 2018. Study selection, data extraction, and study quality assessment were independently carried out by two reviewers. The potentially identified randomized controlled trials (RCT) reported the useful quantitative data that were included only for meta-analysis. Results: meta-analysis of 17 medium-to-high quality RCTs showed significantly beneficial effects on HRV parameters (normalized low-frequency, Hedge’s g = −0.39, 95% CI −0.39 to −0.56, p < 0.001, I2 = 11.62%; normalized high-frequency, Hedge’s g = 0.37, 95% CI 0.22 to −0.52, p < 0.001, I2 = 0%; low-frequency to high-frequency ratio, Hedge’s g = −0.58, 95% CI −0.81 to −0.35, p < 0.001, I2 = 53.78%) and stress level (Hedge’s g = −0.80, 95% CI −1.17 to −0.44, p < 0.001, I2 = 68.54%). Conclusions: Stress reduction may be attributed to sympathetic-vagal balance modulated by mind–body exercises. Tai Chi/Yoga could be an alternative method for stress reduction for people who live under high stress or negative emotions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6262541/

 

Quality of Life of Patients with Cardiovascular Disease is Higher with Spirituality

Quality of Life of Patients with Cardiovascular Disease is Higher with Spirituality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Positive beliefs, comfort, and strength gained from religion, meditation, and prayer can contribute to well being. It may even promote healing. Improving your spiritual health may not cure an illness, but it may help you feel better. It also may prevent some health problems and help you cope better with illness, stress, or death.” – FamilyDoctor

 

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. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, 60% of heart failure patients decline participation, making these patients at high risk for another attack.

 

Safe and effective alternative treatments for cardiovascular disease 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. Indeed, yoga practice is both a mindfulness training technique and a physical exercise.

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred.” Spirituality has been promulgated as a solution to the challenges of life both in a transcendent sense and in a practical sense. The transcendent claims are untestable with the scientific method. But the practical claims are amenable to scientific analysis. There have been a number of studies of the relationship of spirituality with the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality related to greater personal growth and mental health. So, it would make sense to review what is known regarding the relationship of spirituality and religiosity to the psychological state of patients with cardiovascular disease.

 

In today’s Research News article “Association of religiosity and spirituality with quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease: a systematic review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6196107/  ), Abu and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the relationship of spirituality and religiosity to the quality of life of patients with cardiovascular disease. They found and reviewed 15 published studies that assessed spirituality and/or religiosity and global, mental, physical, or disease-related quality of life. All studies were correlational in nature without any active manipulations. Eleven of the studies included patients with heart failure, 2 with acute myocardial infarction, 1 with congenital heart disease, and 1 with multiple diagnoses.

 

They report that 10 of the 15 reviewed studies reported significant positive associations between spirituality and/or religiosity and quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease; the greater the levels of spirituality and/or religiosity, the higher the quality of life. These results are correlational and conclusions regarding causality cannot be confidently made. Even reverse causation is possible such that a higher quality of life with heart disease produces greater spirituality and/or religiosity. In addition, only 2/3 of the studies reported significant results suggesting that the relationships are not highly robust.

 

The findings, though, regardless of causality suggest that spirituality and/or religiosity is related to better quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease. Spirituality and/or religiosity have been shown to be related to resilience and low levels of stress, greater mental health, and better adherence to pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic therapy. These relationships with spirituality and/or religiosity would tend to predict better outcomes and quality of life in the patients. It is also possible that the social relationships and support supplied by spiritual or religious communities are responsible for the relationship. Regardless, it would appear that spirituality and/or religiosity are associated with better quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease.

 

There are more than 50 studies in which religious practices were found to be protective against cardiovascular disease, including death due to heart attacks and strokes as well as against numerous risk factors such as high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels.” – Michael Murray

 

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

 

Hawa O. Abu, Christine Ulbricht, Eric Ding, Jeroan J. Allison, Elena Salmoirago-Blotcher, Robert J. Goldberg, Catarina I. Kiefe. Association of religiosity and spirituality with quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease: a systematic review. Qual Life Res. 2018; 27(11): 2777–2797.

 

Abstract

Purpose

This review systematically identified and critically appraised the available literature that has examined the association between religiosity and/or spirituality (R/S) and quality of life (QOL) in patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Methods

We searched several electronic online databases (PubMed, SCOPUS, PsycINFO, and CINAHL) from database inception until October 2017. Included articles were peer-reviewed, published in English, and quantitatively examined the association between R/S and QOL. We assessed the methodological quality of each included study.

Results

The 15 articles included were published between 2002 and 2017. Most studies were conducted in the US and enrolled patients with heart failure. Sixteen dimensions of R/S were assessed with a variety of instruments. QOL domains examined were global, health-related, and disease-specific QOL. Ten studies reported a significant positive association between R/S and QOL, with higher spiritual well-being, intrinsic religiousness, and frequency of church attendance positively related with mental and emotional well-being. Approximately half of the included studies reported negative or null associations.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that higher levels of R/S may be related to better QOL among patients with CVD, with varying associations depending on the R/S dimension and QOL domain assessed. Future longitudinal studies in large patient samples with different CVDs and designs are needed to better understand how R/S may influence QOL. More uniformity in assessing R/S would enhance the comparability of results across studies. Understanding the influence of R/S on QOL would promote a holistic approach in managing patients with CVD.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6196107/

 

Improve Health with Qigong

Improve Health with Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

So, improve health with Qigong.

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Abstract

Purpose

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

Methods

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

Results

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

Conclusion

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

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

 

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

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

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities (cognition) which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. An encouraging new development is that mindfulness practices such as meditation training can significantly reduce these declines in cognitive ability. In addition, it has been found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Abstract

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

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

 

Improve Autonomic Function, Metabolism, and Physical Fitness with Tai Chi

Improve Autonomic Function, Metabolism, and Physical Fitness with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Qigong and Tai Chi initiate the “relaxation response,” which is fostered when the mind is freed from its many distractions. This decreases the sympathetic function of the autonomic nervous system, which in turn reduces heart rate and blood pressure, dilates the blood capillaries, and optimizes the delivery of oxygen and nutrition to the tissues.”

 

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

 

Because 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. So, with indications of so many benefits it makes sense to explore further the effects of Tai Chi training on physical and psychological well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of Tai Chi Synergy T1 Exercise on Autonomic Function, Metabolism, and Physical Fitness of Healthy Individuals.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2018/6351938/ ), Tai and colleagues recruited adults and randomly assigned them to either participate in 12 weeks, once a week for 60 minutes, of either Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise or a metabolically equivalent walking exercise. “Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise is an aerobic exercise composed of movements derived not only from Tai Chi exercise but also from Eight Trigrams Palms, form and will boxing, mantis boxing, Qigong, and Yoga . . . The 60-minute exercise involves 4 exercise elements: handwork, trunk work, legwork, and whole-body work. The 3 levels of exercise intensity, light, average, and heavy, are adjusted according to the tolerance and fitness of the exerciser.” The participants were measured before and after the 12 weeks of training for body size and fatness, heart rate and blood pressure, serum glucose and cholesterol, physical fitness, bone density, and cell counts of immune regulator cells, including T cells, CD3+ cells, CD19+ B cells, CD16-CD56- cytotoxic T cells, and CD16+CD56+ NK/T cells.

 

They found that both exercises decreased the Body Mass Index (BMI) indicating decreased body fatness and also increased parasympathetic control of heart rate and blood pressure suggesting reduced activation and greater relaxation. Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise, but not walking, was found to significantly improve physical fitness and reduce blood levels of glucose and cholesterol. Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise was also found to improve immune system function as indicated by significantly increased T cells, CD3+ T cells, CD19+ B cells, and CD16+CD56+NK cells and significantly decreased CD3+ cytotoxic T cells.

 

These results are impressive especially as the group sizes were relatively small, 26 and 23 participants. They suggest that Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise is safe and effective in improving the physical health of participants; improving body fatness, physiological relaxation, physical fitness, and immune system function. Metabolically equivalent walking exercise also improved physical health, but not to the same extent as Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise.

 

It is well established that exercise is important for health. There’s no question there. There is, however, a question as to what exercises may be best for which group of people. Tai Chi and similar mindful movement exercises have been shown to improve cardiovascular fitness, muscle recovery after exercise, movement and flexibility, and immune and metabolic function. The present study demonstrated that a particular form of augmented Tai Chi is very effective in improving health. It would be interesting to compare the effectgiveness of various forms of mindful movement prctices.

 

So, improve autonomic function, metabolism, and physical fitness with Tai Chi.

 

“Qigong practice activate a number of the body’s self regulating systems which are responsible for the balanced function of the tissues, organs and glands. The uptake of oxygen, as well as, oxygen metabolism is tremendously enhanced by Qigong practice.” – Roger Jahnke

 

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

 

Hsu-Chih Tai, Yi-Sheng Chou, I-Shiang Tzeng, et al., “Effect of Tai Chi Synergy T1 Exercise on Autonomic Function, Metabolism, and Physical Fitness of Healthy Individuals,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2018, Article ID 6351938, 7 pages, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/6351938.

 

Abstract

Objectives. Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise is an aerobic exercise derived mainly from Tai Chi exercise. It is also derived from the Eight Trigrams Palms, form and will boxing, mantis boxing, Qigong, and Yoga, with a total of 16 sessions in 63 minutes. In this study, we investigated its effects on autonomic modulation, metabolism, immunity, and physical function in healthy practitioners. Method. We recruited a total of 26 volunteers and 23 control participants. Heart rate variability (HRV), blood pressure, and body mass index (BMI) were recorded before and after practicing Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise and regular walking for 10 weeks, respectively. Serum glucose, cholesterol, and peripheral blood including B and T cell counts were also measured. They underwent one-minute bent-knee sit-ups, sit and reach test, and three-minute gradual step test. Results. Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise enhanced parasympathetic modulation and attenuated sympathetic nerve control with increased very low frequency (VLF) and high frequency (HF) but decreased low frequency (LF) compared to the control group. Metabolic profiles including serum glucose, cholesterol, and BMI significantly improved after exercise. The exercise enhanced innate and adaptive immunity by increasing the counts of CD3+ T cells, CD19+ B cells, and CD16+CD56+ NK cells but decreasing the CD3+ cytotoxic T cell count. All monitored parameters including physical fitness and physical strength improved after the exercise. Conclusion. Tai Chi synergy T1 exercise improves autonomic modulation, body metabolism, physical fitness, and physical strength after 10 weeks of practice.

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2018/6351938/

 

Decrease Cardiovascular Disease Risk with Yoga

Decrease Cardiovascular Disease Risk with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga is designed to bring about increased physical, mental and emotional well-being. Hand in hand with leading a heart-healthy lifestyle, it really is possible for a yoga-based model to help prevent or reverse heart disease. It may not completely reverse it, but you will definitely see benefits.” – M. Mala Cunningham

 

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. Cardiac rehabilitation programs for patients recovering from a heart failure, emphasize these lifestyle changes. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, 60% of heart failure patients decline participation, making these patients at high risk for another attack.

 

Safe and effective alternative treatments for cardiovascular disease 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. Indeed, yoga practice is both a mindfulness training technique and a physical exercise. As such, it would seem particularly interesting to explore as a treatment to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga as an Alternative and Complimentary Therapy for Cardiovascular Disease: A Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871178/ ),  Haider and colleagues reviewed and summarized the published research literature on the effects of yoga practice on risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

 

They found 12 published studies, 7 of which were randomized controlled trials. There were large differences in the methodology, duration of practice, and measures employed in these studies. Nevertheless all 12 studies reported significant improvements in at least one cardiovascular disease risk factor. These included “both physical and mental factors, including body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol, anxiety, depression, quality of life, weight, and pulmonary function.” Hence, the published research literature suggests that yoga practice is a safe and effective treatment that can reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

 

So, decrease cardiovascular disease risk with yoga.

 

“A large number of studies show that yoga benefits many aspects of cardiovascular health. There’s been a major shift in the last five years or so in the number of cardiologists and other professionals recognizing that these benefits are real.” – Hugh Calkins

 

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

 

Haider, T., Sharma, M., & Branscum, P. (2017). Yoga as an Alternative and Complimentary Therapy for Cardiovascular Disease: A Systematic Review. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 22(2), 310–316. http://doi.org/10.1177/2156587215627390

 

Abstract

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of disability and death worldwide. Yoga, a mind-body exercise, utilizes breathing techniques with low-impact physical activity that may be an alternative treatment for cardiovascular disease. The purpose of this systematic review was to examine yoga interventions for patients at-risk for and/or suffering from cardiovascular disease. The inclusion criteria for interventions were (a) published in the English language between 2005 and 2015; (b) indexed in MEDLINE/PubMed, CINAHL, or Alt HealthWatch; (c) employed a quantitative design; and (d) applied a yoga intervention. Twelve interventions met the inclusion criteria, of which, all documented significant improvements in one or more factors associated with cardiovascular disease. Limitations to the studies in this review included a lack of studies adhering to the inclusion criteria, small sample sizes, and high attrition rates. Despite the limitations, this review demonstrates the clear potential yoga has as an alternative and complementary means to improve cardiovascular disease risk.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871178/