Improve Cardiac Function in Heart Failure Patients with Tai Chi

Improve Cardiac Function in Heart Failure Patients with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Tai chi may be a useful form of exercise for cardiac rehab programs, as it’s safe for high-risk patients. Findings also suggest that tai chi alone may be beneficial for patients who are unwilling to participate in a rehab program.” – CardioSmart

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. There are myriads of treatments that have been developed to treat Heart Failure 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. 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 other lifestyle changes needed such as smoking cessationweight reduction and stress reduction.

 

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.  Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient mindfulness practices involving slow prescribed movements. They are gentle and completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, are inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned. In addition, they can also be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. Since Tai Chi is both a mindfulness practice and an exercise, it may be an acceptable and effective treatment for heart failure patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi exercise and functional electrical stimulation of lower limb muscles for rehabilitation in older adults with chronic systolic heart failure: a non-randomized clinical trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6886363/), Hao and colleagues recruited elderly (>70 years) heart failure patients and assigned them to receive either 1-hour, twice a week, for 12 weeks Tai Chi practice or 30-minutes, five times per week of functional electrical stimulation of lower limb muscles (FEW), or both Tai Chi and FES, or to a no-treatment control condition. They were measured before and after the interventions for quality of life, depression, arterial flow mediated dilatation, mobility, and peak oxygen consumption.

 

They found that in comparison to the control group, all interventions groups had improved quality of life and cardiorespiratory functions. They had significantly improved arterial flow mediated dilatation; a measure associated with lower mortality in heart failure patients. The Tai Chi group also had decreased resting heart rate which, in turn, reduced peak oxygen consumption.

 

The results suggest that both Tai Chi practice and functional electrical stimulation of lower limb muscles improves the quality of life and cardiorespiratory functions in elderly heart failure patients. Additionally, Tai Chi practice lowered heart rates suggesting improved physical fitness. Hence, these interventions are recommended for the treatment of elderly heart failure patients.

Tai Chi, however, may be preferred due to its high levels of adherence and enjoyability.

 

So, improve cardiac function in heart failure patients with Tai Chi.

 

it’s a reasonable and safe step to offer tai chi within cardiac rehab. If someone says they are afraid of exercising, we could ask if they are interested in doing tai chi.” – Elena Salmoriago-Blotcher

 

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

 

Hao, Y., Zhang, L., Zhang, Z., Chen, L., He, N., & Zhu, S. (2019). Tai Chi exercise and functional electrical stimulation of lower limb muscles for rehabilitation in older adults with chronic systolic heart failure: a non-randomized clinical trial. Brazilian journal of medical and biological research = Revista brasileira de pesquisas medicas e biologicas, 52(12), e8786. doi:10.1590/1414-431X20198786

 

Abstract

Exercise-based training decreases hospitalizations in heart failure patients but such patients have exercise intolerance. The objectives of the study were to evaluate the effect of 12 weeks of Tai Chi exercise and lower limb muscles’ functional electrical stimulation in older chronic heart failure adults. A total of 1,084 older adults with chronic systolic heart failure were included in a non-randomized clinical trial (n=271 per group). The control group did not receive any kind of intervention, one group received functional electrical stimulation of lower limb muscles (FES group), another group practiced Tai Chi exercise (TCE group), and another received functional electrical stimulation of lower limb muscles and practiced Tai Chi exercise (FES & TCE group). Quality of life and cardiorespiratory functions of all patients were evaluated. Compared to the control group, only FES group had increased Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire (KCCQ) score (P<0.0001, q=9.06), only the TCE group had decreased heart rate (P<0.0001, q=5.72), and decreased peak oxygen consumption was reported in the TCE group (P<0.0001, q=9.15) and FES & TCE group (P<0.0001, q=10.69). FES of lower limb muscles and Tai Chi exercise can recover the quality of life and cardiorespiratory functions of older chronic heart failure adult

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6886363/

 

Improve Vascular Function and blood Pressure with Meditation

Improve Vascular Function and blood Pressure with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Studies have also linked meditation to healthier arteries and improved blood flow to the heart.” – CardioSmart

 

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. Treatment frequently includes 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. Indeed, meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. These practices have also been shown to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress and to be helpful for producing the kinds of lifestyle changes needed to prevent heart disease such as smoking cessation, and weight reduction. They have also been shown to be effective in maintaining cardiovascular health and the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Hence it is reasonable to review and summarize what has been learned concerning the effects of mindfulness training on cardiovascular health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Buddhist meditation for vascular function: A narrative review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6881634/?report=classic), Amarasekera and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies on the effects of meditation on vascular endothelial function and blood pressure. They found 5 published research reports.

 

They report that the research found that meditation practice increased mindfulness and decreased stress and blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic. They also found that meditation improved vascular endothelial function, including a reduction in vascular stiffness and an increase in flow mediated dilatation. These benefits occurred in both old and young individuals.

 

The findings of the research to date suggests that meditation practice produces significant improvements in vascular function. This is particularly important as today’s sedentary life styles are associated with increased blood pressure and impaired vascular function which in turn is associated with poorer health. It is likely that the ability of meditation practice to increase mindfulness and to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress are responsible for the cardiovascular improvements.

 

So, improve vascular function and blood pressure with meditation.

 

“it is not the stress in our life, but the reaction to stress that is so potentially harmful to our health, including cardiovascular health. Hence . . . meditation and relaxation techniques are extremely important and useful to minimize these unhealthy reactions to stress.” – Joon Sup 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

 

Amarasekera, A. T., & Chang, D. (2019). Buddhist meditation for vascular function: A narrative review. Integrative medicine research, 8(4), 252–256. doi:10.1016/j.imr.2019.11.002

 

Abstract

Background

High blood pressure represents an important risk factor for diseases related to cardiovascular system and is directly associated with high oxidative stress, inflammation and vascular endothelial dysfunction. Recently, there is promising data available to suggest that meditation-based low-cost and low-risk lifestyle modification strategies may provide beneficial effects on chronic inflammation, oxidative stress and maintenance of blood pressure, both in young and older adults. This review aims to summarize the evidence regarding the effectiveness of Buddhist meditation for vascular endothelial function and blood pressure.

Method

A search was conducted using Ovid MEDLINE, Scopus, CINAHL and PsycINFO for articles published from 1990 to 2018.

Results

Relevant articles (n = 407) were reviewed and 5 met selection criteria. Several lines of studies have provided compelling data showing that Buddhist meditation approach was effective in improving inflammation and vascular function (endothelial vasodilation and arterial stiffness) in both young and elderly cohorts. Particularly, Buddhist meditation approach has shown to be effective in reducing plasma inflammatory markers, increasing nitric oxide concentration and improving vascular endothelial function and glycemic control, which in turn can be favorable factors for demonstrated positive effects of Buddhist meditation on blood pressure and vascular function.

Conclusion

This paper presents brief overview of clinical outcomes of complementary therapeutic approach of Buddhist meditation in vascular function. In future, well-structured systematic reviews are essential to report specificity of Buddhist mindfulness-based approach on vascular function, blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6881634/?report=classic

 

Reduce Depression with Qigong Practice

Reduce Depression with Qigong Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

practice of the Chinese martial art tai chi led to significantly reduced symptoms of depression in Chinese-Americans not receiving any other treatments.” – Science Daily

 

Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. Depression can be difficult to treat and is usually treated with anti-depressive medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time. In addition, many patients who achieve remission have relapses and recurrences of the depression. Even after remission some symptoms of depression may still be present (residual symptoms).

 

Being depressed and not responding to treatment or relapsing is a terribly difficult situation. The patients are suffering and nothing appears to work to relieve their depression. Suicide becomes a real possibility. So, it is imperative that other treatments be identified that can relieve the suffering. Mindfulness training is an alternative treatment for depression. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs fail.  Mindful Movement practices such as Qigong and Tai Chi have been found to be effective for depression. Research has been accumulating. So, it is important to step back and examine what has been learned regarding the application of Qigong practice for depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Neurophysiological and Psychological Mechanisms of Qigong as a Treatment for Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6880657/?report=classic), So and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials of Qigong practice for depression. They identified 9 published trials that included depression and biological measures.

 

They report that the research found that Qigong practice resulted in a significant reduction in depression with small to moderate effect sizes. They also report that there was a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure produced by  Qigong practice. There were indications that Qigong practice also reduced inflammation and stress hormones and increased well-being but there were insufficient studies to conduct a meta-analysis.

 

The results suggest that Qigong practice is a safe and mildly effective treatment for depression. There is a need for more research on the effects of Qigong practice on the biological processes that may underlie its effectiveness and also of the psychological well-being of the depressed individuals.

 

It’s important to note that Qigong is a gentle and safe mindfulness practice. It is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. It is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can be practiced in social groups. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice.

 

So, reduce depression with Qigong practice.

 

Qi Gong is one path for overcoming depression that has no harmful side effects. Furthermore, it can coincide with any other course of intervention or treatment.” – Ian Drogin

 

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

 

So, W., Cai, S., Yau, S. Y., & Tsang, H. (2019). The Neurophysiological and Psychological Mechanisms of Qigong as a Treatment for Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in psychiatry, 10, 820. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00820

 

Abstract

Objective: An increasing number of studies have shown the anti-depressive effect of qigong. However, its underlying mechanism remains poorly understood. This study aims to systematically review and meta-analyze existing literature on the mechanism of qigong in reducing depression.

Method: The review process followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Randomized controlled trials of qigong were searched from PsycINFO, PubMed, Embase, ScienceDirect, and Academic Search Premier from inception to December 2018. Studies which involved depression and any neurophysiological or psychological mechanisms as outcomes were included. Publication bias was tested before conducting meta-analysis. Two independent raters were involved for the entire review process.

Results: A total of nine studies were identified which covered both neurophysiological and psychological mechanisms. Among these selected studies, seven were involved in meta-analysis, which suggested that qigong was effective in alleviating depression (standardized mean difference, SMD = −0.27, p < 0.05, I 2 = 27%). A significant effect was also found for diastolic blood pressure (SMD = −1.64, p < 0.05, I 2 = 31%). However, no significant effect was found for cortisol level and systolic blood pressure.

Conclusions: This review shows that qigong is effective in reducing depression through activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Future studies with higher quality of research methodology with less selection and attrition bias should be conducted to unravel the possible anti-depressive effect of qigong.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6880657/?report=classic

 

Improve the Rehabilitation of Cardiac Patients with Mindfulness

Improve the Rehabilitation of Cardiac Patients with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Meditation practice may be clinically useful in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease [the prevention of further heart or stroke events for people who already have the condition].” – British Heart Foundation

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer. A myriad of treatments has been developed 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 cardiovascular disease patients decline participation, making these patients at high risk for another attack.

 

Contemplative practices have been shown to be safe and effective alternative treatments for cardiovascular disease. Practices such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have been shown to be helpful for heart health and to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. Additionally, they have been shown to be helpful for producing the kinds of lifestyle changes needed to prevent heart disease such as smoking cessation, and weight reduction. They have also been shown to be effective in maintaining cardiovascular health and the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Hence it is reasonable to continue studying the effects of mindfulness training on patients with cardiovascular disease.

 

In today’s Research News article “Randomized Trial of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Cardiac Patients Eligible for Cardiac Rehabilitation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6895078/), Niijar and colleagues performed a pilot randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness of mindfulness training for the mental and physical health of cardiovascular disease patients.

 

They recruited patients with cardiovascular disease who were participating in an exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation program. The patients were randomly assigned to receive either usual care or an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program that met once a week for 2.5 hours and consisted of meditation, body scan, and yoga practices and discussion along with daily home practice. They were measured at baseline and 3 and 9 months later for depressive symptoms, anxiety, perceived stress, health-related quality of life, health history, medication usage, heart rate, heart rate variability, blood pressure, and blood triglycerides and HbA1c.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the usual care group, the group that received the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) had significantly lower levels of depression and anxiety and non-significant trends for lower levels of perceived stress and systolic blood pressure and higher levels of health related quality of life and self-rated health. They also found that the lower the levels of depression and anxiety at 3 months follow-up, the lower the cardiovascular risk factors at the 9-month follow-up, including systolic blood pressure, blood triglycerides, HbA1c, and body mass index.

 

This was a small pilot study that did not have sufficient statistical power to detect small group differences. In addition, all participants received exercise based cardiac rehabilitation program that would be expected to produce improvements by itself. Nevertheless, the study found that the additional participation in a mindfulness training produced significant improvements in the psychological health of the participants and also found trends toward improvements in physiological health. The results suggest that a large randomized controlled trial is justified.

 

The results suggest that a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program may be an effective treatment as a supplement to exercise based cardiac rehabilitation program for the long-term improvement of the mental and physical health of these at-risk patients. This suggests that participation in MBSR in conjunction with exercise may reduce the risk of another cardiovascular event and improve the longevity and mental health of these vulnerable patients.

 

So, improve the rehabilitation of cardiac patients with mindfulness.

 

meditation may promote heart health and reduce cardiovascular risk.” – American College of Cardiology

 

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

 

Nijjar, P. S., Connett, J. E., Lindquist, R., Brown, R., Burt, M., Pergolski, A., … Everson-Rose, S. A. (2019). Randomized Trial of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Cardiac Patients Eligible for Cardiac Rehabilitation. Scientific reports, 9(1), 18415. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-54932-2

 

Abstract

Currently, exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is the only recommended secondary prevention strategy for cardiac patients that attempts to tackle stress and psychosocial wellbeing, but it is under-utilized and lacks a comprehensive curriculum for this purpose; hence there is a critical gap to address psychosocial needs of cardiac patients after an event. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) has shown benefits in the general population but its role in cardiac patients is not clear. We conducted a pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) of MBSR in CR-eligible cardiac patients during their initial year of recovery. Patients were allocated 2:1 (intervention:control) to an 8-week MBSR group intervention or usual care. Standard measures of depression, anxiety, perceived stress, health related quality of life (HRQOL), blood pressure, biomarkers (lipids, HbA1c, CRP) and 24-hour Holter monitoring were obtained at baseline, 3- and 9-months post-randomization. Sub-group analyses were performed for participants with at least mild depression (PHQ-9 ≥ 5). 47 patients [mean age 58.6 years; 38% female; 77% white] were enrolled in 2 cohorts. 87% of MBSR patients completed the intervention; study retention was >95% at each follow-up visit. At 3 months, compared to controls, MBSR patients showed improvements in depression [p = 0.01] and anxiety [p = 0.04] with a similar trend in HRQOL [p = 0.06]. The MBSR group showed greater improvement or less worsening of most CV risk factors, with an attenuation of treatment effects at 9 months. Participants with at PHQ-9 scores ≥5 at baseline showed greater improvement in psychosocial and CV outcomes, that persisted at 9 months. MBSR is a safe and well received secondary prevention strategy. This pilot RCT provides preliminary evidence of MBSR’s potential to improve short term psychosocial well-being in cardiac patients during their first year of recovery.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6895078/

 

Improve Cardiopulmonary Health Over the Long Haul in Obese Elderly with Tai Chi

Improve Cardiopulmonary Health Over the Long Haul in Obese Elderly with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Research has found that seniors who regularly practice tai chi are steadier on their feet, less likely to suffer high blood pressure, and physically stronger.  Tai chi has been known to improve hand/eye coordination, increase circulation, and can even promote a better night’s sleep.” – Chris Corregall

 

Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases and diabetes. Overweight and abdominal obesity are associated with high blood pressure, insulin resistance and elevation of plasma cholesterol and triglycerides. It is highly associated with pulmonary problems and type-2 diabetes. Obesity incidence has been rising rapidly and it currently affects over a third of U.S. adults. The simplest treatment is simply exercise and weight loss. Also, mindfulness techniques have been shown to be effective in treating Metabolic Syndrome.

 

Obviously, there is a need for effective treatments to prevent or treat the health consequences of obesity. But, despite copious research and a myriad of dietary and exercise programs, there still is no safe and effective treatment. Tai Chi practice is both an exercise and a mindfulness practice. It has been found to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. It appears to strengthen the immune systemreduce inflammation, and improve cardiovascular function. Tai Chi training has also been shown to improve lung function. These findings are encouraging. But little is known about the ability of Tai Chi practice to improve cardiopulmonary function over the long-term.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi can prevent cardiovascular disease and improve cardiopulmonary function of adults with obesity aged 50 years and older: A long-term follow-up study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6824704/), Sun and colleagues recruited healthy obese adults over 50 years of age (average 66 years) and provided them with a health education training. In addition, half the participants received training in Tai Chi 3 times per week for 30-40 minutes. They were measured before and after training and then every 3 to 6 months over 6 years for blood pressure, body size, cardiac function, and lung function.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the health education only group, the Tai Chi group had significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, waist and hip circumference, weight, and body mass index, and significant improvements in cardiac and lung function that were maintained for 6 years. In addition, the Tai Chi  group had lower incidences of health complications, lower mortality, and lower rates of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease.

 

These results are exciting and remarkable. It is exceedingly rare to have such long-term follow-up of the effectiveness of an intervention. The results demonstrate that Tai Chi practice can be safely maintained over very long periods of time and produce sustained benefits for the health of the elderly. It’s important to note that Tai Chi is gentle and safe, appropriate for all ages, 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, improve cardiopulmonary health over the long haul in obese elderly with Tai Chi.

 

Practising the ancient martial art of Tai Chi is so beneficial to elderly people’s health that it should be “the preferred mode of training”” – The Telegraph

 

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, L., Zhuang, L. P., Li, X. Z., Zheng, J., & Wu, W. F. (2019). Tai Chi can prevent cardiovascular disease and improve cardiopulmonary function of adults with obesity aged 50 years and older: A long-term follow-up study. Medicine, 98(42), e17509. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000017509

 

Abstract

To research the possible role of Tai Chi in preventing cardiovascular disease and improving cardiopulmonary function in adults with obesity aged 50 years and older.

Between 2007 and 2012, 120 adults with obesity, aged 50 years and older, were divided into a Tai Chi group and a control group, with 60 participants in each group. The 2 groups were evaluated for weight, waist circumference, hip circumference, blood pressure (BP), body mass index, and incidence of chronic disease during follow-up monitoring.

Two- and 6-year follow-up showed that the average BP in the Tai Chi group along with either the systolic or diastolic pressure decreased significantly compared to those in the control group (P < .001). Waist and hip circumference, weight, and body mass index in the Tai Chi group were significantly reduced compared to those in the control group (P < .001). The cardiopulmonary function of the control group and the Tai Chi group changed, with the cardiac index significantly higher in the Tai Chi group than in the control group (P < .05). The Tai Chi group had significantly higher levels of lung function, including vital capacity, maximal oxygen uptake, and total expiratory time, than the control group. The total incidence of complications and mortality in the Tai Chi group were much lower than those in the control group (P < .001). The incidence of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease in the Tai Chi group (16.67%) was lower than that in the control group (38.33%).

Tai Chi is not only a suitable exercise for elderly people with obesity, but it can also help to regulate BP, improve heart and lung function in these individuals, as well as reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases, helping to improve their quality of life.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6824704/

 

Yoga Practice May Help Prevent the Development of Type II Diabetes

Yoga Practice May Help Prevent the Development of Type II Diabetes

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga can do more than just relax your body in mind — especially if you’re living with diabetes. Certain poses may help lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels while also improving circulation, leading many experts to recommend yoga for diabetes management.” – Healthline

 

Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States and nearly 600 million people worldwide have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Type II Diabetes results from a resistance of tissues, especially fat tissues, to the ability of insulin to promote the uptake of glucose from the blood. As a result, blood sugar levels rise producing hyperglycemia. Diabetes is heavily associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and circulatory problems leading to amputations. As a result, diabetes doubles the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes.

 

Type 2 diabetes is a common and increasingly prevalent illness that is largely preventable. One of the reasons for the increasing incidence of Type 2 Diabetes is its association with overweight and obesity which is becoming epidemic in the industrialized world. A leading cause of this is a sedentary life style. Unlike Type I Diabetes, Type II does not require insulin injections. Instead, the treatment and prevention of Type 2 Diabetes focuses on diet, exercise, and weight control. Recently, mindfulness practices have been shown to be helpful in managing diabetes. A mindfulness practice that combines mindfulness with exercise is yoga and it has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of Type II Diabetes. Prevention is always better than treatments. So, it is important to investigate the ability of yoga practice to prevent Type II diabetes in at risk individuals.

 

In today’s Research News article “.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6795440/), Ramamoorthi and colleagues reviewed, summarized, and performed a meta-analysis of the published controlled research studies of the effectiveness of yoga practice in improving prediabetic symptoms. The found 14 published studies with a total of 834 participants.

 

They report that the published research found that yoga practice significantly improved prediabetic symptoms. They included a significant reduction in fasting blood glucose levels and systolic blood pressure, and improved blood lipid profiles including low density lipoproteins, cholesterol, and triglycerides.

 

This meta-analysis suggests that yoga practice is a safe and effective practice that improves the metabolic signs predictive of future Type II diabetes. It appears to improve glycemic control, blood lipid profiles, and blood pressure. These are very encouraging results. It will be important to follow-up over the long-term to see if these improvements are lasting and if they reduce the transition from then prediabetic state to Type II diabetes.

 

So, yoga practice may help prevent the development of Type II Diabetes.

 

yoga for diabetes provides unique benefits that can effectively restore the body to a state of natural health and proper function.” – Yoga U

 

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

 

Ramamoorthi, R., Gahreman, D., Skinner, T., & Moss, S. (2019). The effect of yoga practice on glycemic control and other health parameters in the prediabetic state: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PloS one, 14(10), e0221067. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0221067

 

Abstract

A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted to investigate the effects of yoga on glycemic control, lipid profiles, body composition and blood pressure in people in the pre-diabetic state. Studies on the effectiveness of yoga on population groups under high risk for diabetes, called prediabetic or suffering from metabolic syndromes were extracted from a thorough search of PubMed, Scopus, Cochrane Library, EBSCO and IndMED databases. Both Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) and non-RCT studies were included in the systematic review and meta-analysis. Studies published between Jan 2002 and Dec 2018 were included. Studies were considered for evaluation if they investigated a yoga intervention to prevent T2DM, against a control group, while also reporting glycemic control and other health parameters of T2DM management. Summary effect sizes and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated using the Comprehensive Meta-Analysis software in addition to publication bias. Of the 46,500 identified studies, 14 studies with 834 participants of whom were 50% women, were found to be eligible for inclusion in our systematic review. Our quantitative synthesis included 12 randomized control trials and 2 non-randomized control trials, with the follow-up period ranging from 4 to 52 weeks. Compared to controls, yoga intervention improved fasting blood glucose (FBG) [Standard Mean Difference (SMD -0.064 mg/dL (95% CI -0.201 to 0.074)]; low density lipoprotein (LDL) [SMD-0.090 mg/dL (95% CI -0.270 to 0.090)]; triglycerides [SMD -0.148 mg/dL (95% CI -0.285 to -0.012)]; total cholesterol [SMD -0.058 mg/dL (95% CI -0.220 to 0.104)] and systolic blood pressure [SMD -0.058 mm Hg (95% CI -0.168 to 0.053)]. This meta-analysis uncovered clinically improved effects of yoga intervention on glycemic control, lipid profiles and other parameters of T2DM management in prediabetic population. These results suggest that yoga intervention may be considered as a comprehensive and alternative approach to preventing T2DM. Further adequately powered, well designed RCTs are needed to support our findings and investigate the long-term effects of yoga in T2DM patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6795440/

 

Improve Physical and Mental Health in Trauma Victims with Bikram Yoga

Improve Physical and Mental Health in Trauma Victims with Bikram Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The steamy temps “allow you to increase their range of motion and stretch deeper within each pose,” since heat makes muscles more pliable, says Numbers. Unlike stretching it out in a standard cool yoga studio, the heat will have you feeling like a pro and extending further than you thought you could.” – Aryelle Siclait

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. Trauma can produce troubling physical and psychological symptoms that need to be addressed. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat the effects of trauma. One of which, mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effective. Yoga practice is a mindfulness practice that has been shown to be helpful for trauma survivors.

 

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 “#MindinBody – feasibility of vigorous exercise (Bikram yoga versus high intensity interval training) to improve persistent pain in women with a history of trauma: a pilot randomized control trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6714085/), Flehr and colleagues recruited adult pre-menopausal women who had persistent pain and who had experienced trauma. They were randomly assigned to receive 8 weeks of 3 sessions per week of Bikram Yoga (90 minutes) or High Intensity Interval Training (45 minutes). The women were measured before and after training for pain severity, pain interference with quality of life, health, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, disorders of extreme stress, self-efficacy, life stressors, mindfulness, body size, and electrocardiogram (EKG) measures.

 

They found that pain significantly decreased for both groups. On the other hand, Bikram Yoga produced significantly greater improvements in physical functioning, mental health, and heart rate variability with moderate to large effect sizes. No intervention related injuries were reported. Heart rate variability has been shown to measure greater parasympathetic nervous system activity reflecting better overall health.

 

The results suggest that although both programs produced decreased pain intensity, Bikram Yoga was superior to a comparable high intensity exercise in improving the physical and mental health of trauma survivors with persistent pain. A strength of the study is that the Bikram Yoga intervention was compared to another high intensity exercise program, thus reducing the likelihood of participant expectancy effects. Hence Bikram Yoga appears to be a safe and effective treatment for women who have experienced trauma. It would be interesting in the future to compare the Bikram Yoga program to a comparable yoga program practiced at room temperature.

 

So, improve physical and mental health in trauma victims with Bikram Yoga.

 

Hot yoga addresses all aspects of physical fitness including muscular strength, endurance, flexibility and weight loss. . . . There is no other style of yoga that addresses the overall health of the body in such a comprehensive way.” – Peter Mason

 

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

 

Flehr, A., Barton, C., Coles, J., Gibson, S. J., Lambert, G. W., Lambert, E. A., … Dixon, J. B. (2019). #MindinBody – feasibility of vigorous exercise (Bikram yoga versus high intensity interval training) to improve persistent pain in women with a history of trauma: a pilot randomized control trial. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 19(1), 234. doi:10.1186/s12906-019-2642-1

 

Abstract

Background

The neurobiology of persistent pain shares common underlying psychobiology with that of traumatic stress. Modern treatments for traumatic stress often involve bottom-up sensorimotor retraining/exposure therapies, where breath, movement, balance and mindfulness, are used to target underlying psychobiology. Vigorous exercise, in particular Bikram yoga, combines many of these sensorimotor/exposure therapeutic features. However, there is very little research investigating the feasibility and efficacy of such treatments for targeting the underlying psychobiology of persistent pain.

Methods

This study was a randomized controlled trail (RCT) comparing the efficacy of Bikram yoga versus high intensity interval training (HIIT), for improving persistent pain in women aged 20 to 50 years. The participants were 1:1 randomized to attend their assigned intervention, 3 times per week, for 8 weeks. The primary outcome measure was the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) and further pain related biopsychosocial secondary outcomes, including SF-36 Medical Outcomes and heart rate variability (HRV), were also explored. Data was collected pre (t0) and post (t1) intervention via an online questionnaire and physiological testing.

Results

A total of 34 women were recruited from the community. Analyses using ANCOVA demonstrated no significant difference in BPI (severity plus interference) scores between the Bikram yoga (n = 17) and the HIIT (n = 15). Women in the Bikram yoga group demonstrated significantly improved SF-36 subscale physical functioning: [ANCOVA: F(1, 29) = 6.17, p = .019, partial eta-squared effect size (ηp2) = .175 and mental health: F(1, 29) = 9.09, p = .005, ηp2 = .239; and increased heart rate variability (SDNN): F(1, 29) = 5.12, p = .013, ηp2 = .150, scores compared to the HIIT group. Across both groups, pain was shown to decrease, no injuries were experienced and retention rates were 94% for Bikram yoga and 75% for HIIT .

Conclusions

Bikram yoga does not appear a superior exercise compared to HIIT for persistent pain. However, imporvements in quality of life measures and indicator of better health were seen in the Bikram yoga group. The outcomes of the present study suggest vigorous exercise interventions in persistent pain cohorts are feasible.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6714085/

 

Improve Metabolic Syndrome with Qigong

Improve Metabolic Syndrome with Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“For patients at risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, the Chinese exercises Tai Chi and Qigong may improve clinical parameters associated with the conditions.” – Charles Bankhead

 

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 highly associated with obesity and type-2 diabetes. Metabolic Syndrome incidence has been rising rapidly and it currently affects 34% of U.S. adults. The simplest treatment is simply exercise and weight loss. Also, mindfulness techniques have been shown to be effective in treating Metabolic Syndrome.

 

Obviously, there is a need for effective treatments to prevent or treat obesity and metabolic syndrome. But, despite copious research and a myriad of dietary and exercise programs, there still is no safe and effective treatment. Qigong practice is both an exercise and a mindfulness practice. It has been found to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. It appears to strengthen the immune systemreduce inflammation, and improve cardiovascular function. So, with indications of so many benefits it makes sense to step back and review the research and summarize what is known about the effects of Qigong training on metabolic syndrome.

 

In today’s Research News article “Wuqinxi Qigong as an Alternative Exercise for Improving Risk Factors Associated with Metabolic Syndrome: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6517947/), Zou and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis on the published randomized controlled trials investigating the effectiveness of Qigong practice for the treatment of metabolic syndrome. They identified 9 published research studies that included a total of 628 participants.

 

They report that the published research found that Qigong practice produced significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, total plasma triglycerides and cholesterol, including reductions in low density lipoproteins (LDL Cholesterol) and high density lipoproteins (HDL Cholesterol). In addition, they found that the longer the duration of practice the greater the decreases in diastolic blood pressure, total plasma triglycerides and cholesterol, and low density lipoproteins (LDL Cholesterol).

 

The findings are exciting as they suggest that Qigong practice is a safe and effective treatment for the symptoms of metabolic syndrome and the longer the practice continues the greater the benefits. Qigong is a gentle and safe mindfulness practice. It is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. It is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in parks 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 excellent gentle practice to treat the symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

 

So, improve metabolic syndrome with Qigong.

 

“Qigong exercise has shown promising results in clinical experience and in randomized, controlled pilot studies for affecting aspects of T2DM including positive associations between participation in Qigong and blood glucose, triglycerides, total cholesterol, weight, BMI and insulin resistance.” – Guan-Cheng Sun

 

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., Zhang, Y., Sasaki, J. E., Yeung, A. S., Yang, L., Loprinzi, P. D., … Mai, Y. (2019). Wuqinxi Qigong as an Alternative Exercise for Improving Risk Factors Associated with Metabolic Syndrome: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(8), 1396. doi:10.3390/ijerph16081396

 

Abstract

Background: The improvement of living standards has led to increases in the prevalence of hypokinetic diseases. In particular, multifactorial complex diseases, such as metabolic syndrome, are becoming more prevalent. Currently, developing effective methods to combat or prevent metabolic syndrome is of critical public health importance. Thus, we conducted a systematic review to evaluate the existing literature regarding the effects of Wuqinxi exercise on reducing risk factors related to metabolic syndrome. Methods:Both English- and Chinese-language databases were searched for randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of Wuqinxi on these outcomes. Meanwhile, we extracted usable data for computing pooled effect size estimates, along with the random-effects model. Results: The synthesized results showed positive effects of Wuqinxi exercise on systolic blood pressure (SBP, SMD = 0.62, 95% CI 0.38 to 0.85, p< 0.001, I2 = 24.06%), diastolic blood pressure (DBP, SMD = 0.62, 95% CI 0.22 to 1.00, p < 0.001, I2 = 61.28%), total plasma cholesterol (TC, SMD = 0.88, 95% CI 0.41 to 1.36, p < 0.001, I2 = 78.71%), triglyceride (TG, SMD = 0.87, 95% CI 0.49 to 1.24, p < 0.001, I2 = 67.22%), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C, SMD = 1.24, 95% CI 0.76 to 1.72, p < 0.001, I2 = 78.27%), and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL, SMD = 0.95, 95% CI 0.43 to 1.46, p < 0.001, I2 = 82.27%). In addition, regression results showed that longer-duration Wuqinxi intervention significantly improved DBP (β = 0.00016, Q = 5.72, df = 1, p = 0.02), TC (β = −0.00010, Q = 9.03, df = 1, p = 0.01), TG (β = 0.00012, Q = 6.23, df = 1, p = 0.01), and LDL (β = 0.00011, Q = 5.52, df = 1, p = 0.02). Conclusions: Wuqinxi may be an effective intervention to alleviate the cardiovascular disease risk factors of metabolic syndrome.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6517947/

 

Improve Depression by Modulating the Autonomic Nervous System in the Elderly with Tai Chi

Improve Depression by Modulating the Autonomic Nervous System in the Elderly with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The ancient Chinese practice of tai chi appears to relieve symptoms of depression in older people.” – Tara Parker-Pope

 

Human life is one of constant change. We revel in our increases in physical and mental capacities during development, but regret their decreases during aging. The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. This includes our mental abilities which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem-solving ability, and in emotion regulation. Depression is very common in the elderly. The elderly cope with increasing loss of friends and family, deteriorating health, as well as concerns regarding finances on fixed incomes. In addition, many elderly experience withdrawal and isolation from social interactions producing increased loneliness, worry and anxiety.

 

There is some hope for age related decline, however, as there is evidence that it can be slowed. There are some indications that physical and mental exercise can reduce the rate of decline. For example, contemplative practices such as meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi or qigong have all been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging and with improving depression. There is, however, been very little research on the mechanisms by which Tai Chi practice improves depression in the elderly.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Tai Chi on Heart Rate Variability in Older Chinese Individuals with Depression.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6313592/), Liu and colleagues recruited elderly (aged 60 and older) who were not taking antidepressant medications or drinking alcohol, but who scored as having mild depression on an elderly depression scale. They were randomly assigned to either receive Tai Chi training for 60 minutes, 3 times per week for 24 weeks, or to a no-treatment control condition. The elderly were measured before and after treatment for depression, and heart rate variability, a measure of autonomic nervous system activity.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control group the Tai Chi participants had significantly decreased levels of depression and significant decreases in low frequency heart rate variability and significant increases in high frequency heart rate variability. The higher the levels of high frequency heart rate variability the lower the levels of depression and the lower the levels of low frequency heart rate variability the lower the levels of depression.

 

These findings are interesting and suggest that Tai Chi training reduces depression in the elderly. The results further suggest that Tai Chi training may do so by creating balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. High frequency heart rate variability is suggestive of parasympathetic (relaxation) activity and this was increased by Tai Chi training while low frequency heart rate variability is suggestive of sympathetic (activation) activity and this was decreased by Tai Chi training. Hence, the results suggest that Tai Chi training may lead to less activation and greater relaxation and this may counter depression.

 

So, improve depression by modulating the autonomic nervous system in the elderly with Tai Chi

 

 “Tai chi has many physical and emotional benefits. Some of the benefits of tai chi include decreased anxiety and depression and improvements in cognition. It may also help you manage symptoms of some chronic diseases.” – Healthline

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Liu, J., Xie, H., Liu, M., Wang, Z., Zou, L., Yeung, A. S., … Yang, Q. (2018). The Effects of Tai Chi on Heart Rate Variability in Older Chinese Individuals with Depression. International journal of environmental research and public health, 15(12), 2771. doi:10.3390/ijerph15122771

 

Abstract

Background Very little research has been done to simultaneously investigate the effects of Tai Chi (TC) on depression and heart rate variability (HRV). This study, therefore, attempted to explore the effects of TC on depression and on HRV parameters. Methods Sixty older individuals with depression score of 10 or above (the Geriatric Depression Scale, GDS) were randomly assigned into two groups: TC (n = 30) and control group (n = 30). Participants in the experimental group participated in a 24-week TC training program (three 60-min sessions per week), whereas individuals in the control group maintained their unaltered lifestyle. Depression and HRV were measured using the GDS and digital electrocardiogram at baseline and after the 24-week intervention. Results The TC had produced significant positive chances in depression and some HRV parameters (mean heart rate, RMSSD, HF, LFnorm, and HFnorm) (p < 0.05), whereas these positive results were not observed in the control group. Conclusions The results of this study indicated that TC may alleviate depression of the elderly through modulating autonomous nervous system or HRV parameters. This study adds to a growing body of research showing that TC may be effective in treating depression of the elderly. Tai Chi as a mild to moderate mind-body exercise is suitable for older individuals who suffer from depression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6313592/

 

Meditation Alter Short-Term and Long-Term Breathing

Meditation Alter Short-Term and Long-Term Breathing

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, meditation healthfully slows down heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, sweating, and soothing all other sympathetic nervous system fight or flight functions.” – EOC Institute

 

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 respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure, while the parasympathetic division underlies relaxation, including decreases in respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. These include alterations of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) producing physiological relaxation including reductions in breathing rates. But the effects of meditation on breathing has not been well studied.

 

In today’s Research News article “Breath Rate Variability: A Novel Measure to Study the Meditation Effects.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329220/), Soni and colleagues recruited experienced meditators and nonmeditators who expressed interest in meditation. They were asked to close their eyes and sit quietly for 15 minutes. During which time they measured for heart rate and respiration.

 

They found that the meditators had significantly greater mean and median breathing time, standard deviation of the breath to breathe interval, standard deviation of the average breath to breathe interval, root mean square standard deviation of the average breath to breathe interval and significantly lower breath rate. These measures suggest that meditation practice produces short-term changes in breathing when at rest. In addition, heart rate and breath rate variability measures suggested that there was a significant increase in long-term parasympathetic input in the meditators.

 

These are complex but interesting results that suggest that meditation practice alters respiration over both the short and long term. On the short term, while at rest with eyes closed meditators have better, more relaxed, control of respiration. On the long term, meditator appear to have increased parasympathetic control of respiration. This suggest an overall relaxation of respiration. Meditation would appear to alter the overall balance in the autonomic nervous system toward increased parasympathetic (relaxation) control and decreases sympathetic (activation) control. This may explain some of the benefits of meditation for stress reduction.

 

So, relax short-term and long-term breathing with meditation

 

“all forms of meditation studied reduce physiological stress markers in one way or another, and therefore, all forms are likely beneficial in managing stress.” – Michaela Pascoe

 

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

 

Soni, R., & Muniyandi, M. (2019). Breath Rate Variability: A Novel Measure to Study the Meditation Effects. International journal of yoga, 12(1), 45–54. doi:10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_27_17

 

Abstract

Context:

Reliable quantitative measure of meditation is still elusive. Although electroencephalogram (EEG) and heart rate variability (HRV) are known as quantitative measures of meditation, effects of meditation on EEG and HRV may well take long time as these measures are involuntarily controlled. Effect of mediation on respiration is well known; however, quantitative measures of respiration during meditation have not been studied.

Aims:

Breath rate variability (BRV) as an alternate measure of meditation even over a short duration is proposed. The main objective of this study is to test the hypothesis that BRV is a simple measure that differentiates between meditators and nonmeditators.

Settings and Design:

This was a nonrandomized, controlled trial. Volunteers meditate in their natural habitat during signal acquisition.

Subjects and Methods:

We used Photo-Plythysmo-Gram (PPG) signal acquisition system from BIO-PAC and recorded video of chest and abdomen movement due to respiration during a short meditation (15 min) session for 12 individuals (all males) meditating in a relaxed sitting posture. Seven of the 12 individuals had substantial experience in meditation, while others are controls without any experience in meditation. Respiratory signal from PPG signal was derived and matched with that of the video respiratory signal. This derived respiratory signal is used for calculating BRV parameters in time, frequency, nonlinear, and time-frequency domain.

Statistical Analysis Used:

First, breath-to-breath interval (BBI) was calculated from the respiration signal, then time domain parameters such as standard deviation of BBI (SDBB), root mean square value of SDBB (RMSSD), and standard deviation of SDBB (SDSD) were calculated. We performed spectral analysis to calculate frequency domain parameters (power spectral density [PSD], power of each band, peak frequency of each band, and normalized frequency) using Burg, Welch, and Lomb–Scargle (LS) method. We calculated nonlinear parameters (sample entropy, approximate entropy, Poincare plot, and Renyi entropy). We calculated time frequency parameters (global PSD, low frequency-high frequency [LF-HF] ratio, and LF-HF power) by Burg LS and wavelet method.

Results:

The results show that the mediated individuals have high value of SDSD (+24%), SDBB (+29%), and RMSSD (+26%). Frequency domain analysis shows substantial increment in LFHF power (+73%) and LFHF ratio (+33%). Nonlinear parameters such as SD1 and SD2 were also more (>20%) for meditated persons.

Conclusions:

As compared to HRV, BRV can provide short-term effect on anatomic nervous system meditation, while HRV shows long-term effects. Improved autonomic function is one of the long-term effects of meditation in which an increase in parasympathetic activity and decrease in sympathetic dominance are observed. In future works, BRV could also be used for measuring stress.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329220/