Treat Physical Health Conditions with Mindfulness

Treat Physical Health Conditions with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“A growing body of research now links the Eastern practice to improved conditions for serious ailments, from diabetes to heart disease to cancer. How? By “treating the whole person… so they can live in greater health and joy.” – Shauna Shapiro

 

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. 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.

 

The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified trained therapist. This produces costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, on-line mindfulness training programs have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But, the question arises as to the effectiveness of these programs.

 

In today’s Research News article “Web-Based Mindfulness Interventions for People With Physical Health Conditions: Systematic Review.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5599726/, Toivonen and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effectiveness on on-line mindfulness training programs on the psychological and physical symptoms of chronic diseases. They report on 16 published studies.

 

They found that studies of on-line mindfulness training for the treatment of chronic pain conditions, including fibromyalgia, demonstrated significant effectiveness for pain coping and the psychological symptoms produced by chronic pain. But, the evidence was inconclusive regarding alterations of experienced pain. Studies of heart disease treatment with on-line mindfulness trainings demonstrated small improvements relative to usual care in exercise tolerance, heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and stress. Studies of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) demonstrated significant effectiveness of on-line mindfulness trainings for the symptoms, quality of life, and psychological distress produced by IBS. Studies of epilepsy demonstrated significant effectiveness of on-line mindfulness trainings for the depression accompanying epilepsy. Studies of Tinnitus demonstrated significant effectiveness of on-line mindfulness trainings for Tinnitus severity, depression, anxiety and perceived stress accompanying Tinnitus. Studies of acquired brain injury demonstrated significant effectiveness of on-line mindfulness trainings for the mental fatigue accompanying acquired brain injury. Studies of cancer survivors demonstrated significant effectiveness of on-line mindfulness trainings for the fatigue, depressed mood, and psychological distress accompanying cancer survival.

 

The published studies found that it did not make a significant difference if the on-line mindfulness training occurred through immediate interaction or with continuously available resources or whether there was an active facilitator or not. Hence, on-line training did not require active participation by a therapist. Effectiveness was present regardless. The materials and not the format or the therapist was important.

 

These are important and exciting results that demonstrate the effectiveness of on-line mindfulness training for the treatment of chronic diseases. Thus, mindfulness trainings can be implemented with high cost-effectiveness, to large numbers of people, without the necessity of a therapist’s involvement, and without the requirement for attendance at particular locations. The results suggest that mindfulness practices can be provided widely and inexpensively to relieve at least some of the suffering produced by a wide variety of chronic diseases.

 

Other research has looked broadly at use of mindfulness-based group therapy compared to individual cognitive-behavioral therapy for patients with various conditions including depression, anxiety and stress and adjustment disorders. They found that the mindfulness group therapy as effective as the individual therapy.” – American Psychiatric Association

 

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

 

Toivonen, K. I., Zernicke, K., & Carlson, L. E. (2017). Web-Based Mindfulness Interventions for People With Physical Health Conditions: Systematic Review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 19(8), e303. http://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.7487

 

Abstract

Background

Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are becoming increasingly popular for helping people with physical health conditions. Expanding from traditional face-to-face program delivery, there is growing interest in Web-based application of MBIs, though Web-based MBIs for people with physical health conditions specifically have not been thoroughly reviewed to date.

Objective

The objective of this paper was to review Web-based MBIs for people with physical health conditions and to examine all outcomes reported (eg, efficacy or effectiveness for physical changes or psychological changes; feasibility).

Methods

Databases PubMed, PsycINFO, Science Direct, CINAHL Plus, and Web of Science were searched. Full-text English papers that described any Web-based MBI, examining any outcome, for people with chronic physical health conditions were included. Randomized, nonrandomized, controlled, and uncontrolled trials were all included. Extracted data included intervention characteristics, population characteristics, outcomes, and quality indicators. Intervention characteristics (eg, synchronicity and guidance) were examined as potential factors related to study outcomes.

Results

Of 435 publications screened, 19 published papers describing 16 studies were included. They examined Web-based MBIs for people with cancer, chronic pain or fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), epilepsy, heart disease, tinnitus, and acquired brain injury. Overall, most studies reported positive effects of Web-based MBIs compared with usual care on a variety of outcomes including pain acceptance, coping measures, and depressive symptoms. There were mixed results regarding the effectiveness of Web-based MBIs compared with active control treatment conditions such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Condition-specific symptoms (eg, cancer-related fatigue and IBS symptoms) targeted by treatment had the largest effect size improvements following MBIs. Results are inconclusive regarding physical variables.

Conclusions

Preliminary evidence suggests that Web-based MBIs may be helpful in alleviating symptom burden that those with physical health conditions can experience, particularly when interventions are tailored for specific symptoms. There was no evidence of differences between synchronous versus asynchronous or facilitated versus self-directed Web-based MBIs. Future investigations of Web-based MBIs should evaluate the effects of program adherence, effects on mindfulness levels, and whether synchronous or asynchronous, or facilitated or self-directed interventions elicit greater improvements.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5599726/

Improve Health in the Elderly with Yoga

Improve Health in the Elderly with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Yoga, especially restorative yoga, can also offer a wide array of health benefits—working physical and psychological wonders. Seniors, who often struggle with pain, joint stress, imbalance, osteoarthritis, and other physical limitations, can benefit from incorporating a yoga practice into their daily routine.”Melissa Eisler

 

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, the brain included. 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. A consequence of the physical decline is impaired balance. It is a particular problem as it can lead to falls. In the U.S. one third of people over 65 fall each year and 2.5 million are treated in emergency rooms for injuries produced by falls. About 1% of falls result in deaths making it the leading cause of death due to injury among the elderly.

 

Since the global population of the elderly is increasing at unprecedented rates, it is imperative to investigate methods to slow physical and mental aging and mitigate its effects. 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. It would seem reasonable to hypothesize that yoga practice, which is both a mindfulness practice and a physical exercise, might decrease age related decline.

 

In today’s Research News article “Adapted yoga to improve physical function and health-related quality of life in physically-inactive older adults: a randomised controlled pilot trial.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5481961/. Tew and colleagues recruited healthy elderly (> 60 years of age) and randomly assigned them to a wait-list control group or to a yoga practice group. Gentle yoga practice occurred in a studio with ten 75-minute sessions over 12 weeks and consisted of standing and sitting postures, meditation, and breathing exercises. Home practice was encouraged. Participants were measured before and after training with a physical performance battery, vital signs, body mass index, health status including mobility, self-care, usual activities, pain/discomfort and anxiety/depression, and mental well-being.

 

They found that the yoga practice group, in comparison to the controls, had significant improvements in health status and mental well-being. They also had improved cardiovascular measures of heart rate and blood pressure and improved physical function in lower limb flexibility and speed of rising from a chair. There were no adverse consequences of the yoga practice. Hence, gentle yoga practice was a safe and effective treatment to improve the physical and mental well-being of the elderly.

 

These results are very encouraging as they suggest that yoga practice may be able to partially slow the physical and mental declines with aging. Although, on average, there was some non-significant improvement in balance observed, there was a significant improvement in lower limb flexibility. This may suggest that the program would make falls less likely. Regardless, it appears that yoga practice should be encouraged for the elderly to improve their overall well-being.

 

So, improve health in the elderly with yoga

 

“Yoga refreshes your mind and spirit. Tones your body. Keeps your internal organs and hormonal system in balance. All the more reason for people of all ages to do yoga. In fact, yoga asanas are one of the few physical exercises you can continue doing as you age. As age progresses, it is more important to focus on HOW YOU DO rather than how much you do.” – Art of Living

 

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

 

Tew, G. A., Howsam, J., Hardy, M., & Bissell, L. (2017). Adapted yoga to improve physical function and health-related quality of life in physically-inactive older adults: a randomised controlled pilot trial. BMC Geriatrics, 17, 131. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-017-0520-6

 

Abstract

Background

Yoga is a holistic therapy of expanding popularity, which has the potential to produce a range of physical, mental and social benefits. This trial evaluated the feasibility and effects of an adapted yoga programme on physical function and health-related quality of life in physically-inactive older adults.

Methods

In this randomised controlled pilot trial, 52 older adults (90% female; mean age 74.8 years, SD 7.2) were randomised 1:1 to a yoga programme or wait-list control. The yoga group (n = 25) received a physical activity education booklet and were invited to attend ten yoga sessions during a 12-week period. The control group (n = 27) received the education booklet only. Measures of physical function (e.g., Short Physical Performance Battery; SPPB), health status (EQ-5D) and mental well-being (Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale; WEMWBS) were assessed at baseline and 3 months. Feasibility was assessed using course attendance and adverse event data, and participant interviews.

Results

Forty-seven participants completed follow-up assessments. Median class attendance was 8 (range 3 to 10). At the 3-month follow-up, the yoga group had a higher SPPB total score compared with the control group (mean difference 0.9, 95% confidence interval [CI] -0.3 to 2.0), a faster time to rise from a chair five times (mean difference − 1.73 s, 95% CI −4.08 to 0.62), and better performance on the chair sit-and-reach lower-limb flexibility test (mean difference 5 cm, 95% CI 0 to 10). The yoga group also had superior health status and mental well-being (vs. control) at 3 months, with mean differences in EQ-5D and WEMWBS scores of 0.12 (95% CI, 0.03 to 0.21) and 6 (95% CI, 1 to 11), respectively. The interviews indicated that participants valued attending the yoga programme, and that they experienced a range of benefits.

Conclusions

The adapted yoga programme appeared to be feasible and potentially beneficial in terms of improving mental and social well-being and aspects of physical function in physically-inactive older adults. An appropriately-powered trial is required to confirm the findings of the present study and to determine longer-term effects.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5481961/

Improve Health with Tai Chi or Qigong

Improve Health with Tai Chi or 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. This is the winning combination: body and mind.” – Denise Nagel

 

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

 

Qigong and Tai Chi are complex practices embedded in the complexities of life. Research has not begun to address what components of these practices interact with which aspects of health behavior to improve overall well-being. In today’s Research News article “Curriculum, Practice, and Diet Predict Health Among Experienced Taiji and Qigong Practitioners.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4761851/, Komelski and colleagues surveyed on the web Tai Chi practitioners with at least 4 years of practice experience to investigate the components of the practice that are most associated with health.

 

The participants answered questions concerning their general health, They measured the frequency of the Tai Chi practice and its’ complexity by the number of four different components included in the participants practice including; (1) stillness practices, (2) iterative practices, such as a mantra, (3) choreography, sequential Tai Chi movements; and (4) partner and prop training. They also measured self-reported diet quality on a scale from ”“poor” indicated daily intake of fast foods, junk foods, and frequent overeating and “excellent” indicated a diet composed mostly of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy sources of protein and calcium, whole grains, rare consumption of fast or junk foods, and infrequent overeating.”

 

They found that the higher the frequency and complexity of the Tai Chi practice and the diet quality the higher the health status of the practitioners. But there were also interactions found between the factors. In particular, when practice frequency was high, its complexity did not matter as a predictor of health status, but when practice frequency was low, the lower the complexity, the worse the health status. In addition, when diet quality was low, practice complexity did not matter as a predictor of health status, but when diet quality was high, the greater the complexity, the better the health status.

 

Remarkably, even though there was a wide range of participant ages, from 24 to 83 years, there was no relationship found between age and health status. Obviously, as people get older there are generally more health problems, but not in this sample of Tai Chi practitioners. This may indicate that Tai Chi practice counteracts the negative effects of aging on health. Indeed, research suggests that Tai Chi practices reduced the cognitive decline, decline in balance, increased blood pressure, and brain deterioration with aging. But, it is also possible that since the participants self-rated their overall health they may have been rating it against their expected health for their age.

 

These findings are interesting but must be interpreted cautiously as these were correlative results and causation cannot be concluded. The results do, however, provide some insights into the relationships of the components of Tai Chi practice with the participants health, the more time practice occurred each week and the more complex the practice the better the health of the practitioner. This suggests that Tai Chi practice may have cumulative effects where the more practice of more components of practice the better the health outcomes particularly when the diet is healthy.

 

So, improve health with tai chi or qigong.

 

“Qigong emphasizes the whole body, whole system health. While it is true that qigong will often cure specific ills, this is not the primary reason for practice. It is not only a matter of adding years to your life, but life to your years.” – Annie Bond

 

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

 

Komelski, M. F., Blieszner, R., & Miyazaki, Y. (2016). Curriculum, Practice, and Diet Predict Health Among Experienced Taiji and Qigong Practitioners. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 22(2), 154–159. http://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2015.0071

 

Abstract

Objective: To explore the potential influence of curriculum, frequency of practice, and dietary quality on the health of experienced Taiji and qigong practitioners.

Design: Theoretical and cross-sectional study.

Methods: Responses from a volunteer sample of Taiji practitioners from across the United States were collected using an online survey. The instrument was designed to collect data on health-related quality of life, diet, and Taiji practice regimens. All experienced (≥4 years) practitioners (n = 94; mean age, 55.82 years [range, 24–83 years]) were included in the analysis. Relationships among self-reported health, diet, experience, practice frequency, and curricular complexity were analyzed.

Results: Practitioners’ health status did not show the typical negative association with age and was positively associated with complex curricula, practice, and high-quality diets. Significant interaction effects were seen between (1) curricular complexity and additional practice (p < 0.05) and (2) curricular complexity and diet (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Intervention designers, Taiji teachers, and practitioners should consider the potential influence of curricula, out-of-class practice, and healthy diets for optimizing health-related gains and minimizing age-related losses in interventions and community-based programs.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4761851/

Improve Veteran Health with In-Person and Telehealth Yoga

Improve Veteran Health with In-Person and Telehealth Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The fact that veterans are embracing yoga and realizing its benefits speaks directly to the stigmas attached to both yoga and PTSD. Veterans practicing yoga illuminate the value of the practice for any person, from any walk of life, not just “new-age hippies.” It also demonstrates that suffering trauma that affects our mental health does not break us or make us any less human.” – Dana Santas

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving the physical and psychological condition of otherwise healthy people and also treating the physical and psychological issues of people with illnesses and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. Techniques such as 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 particularly effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.

 

The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, adopted so far, however, require a certified trained therapist. This produces costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules. As a result, there has been attempts to develop alternative distance education approaches such as on-line mindfulness training programs and videoconferencing. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs and making training schedules much more flexible. But, the question arises as to whether these programs are as effective as their traditional counterparts. Many believe that the presence of a therapist is a crucial component to the success of the programs and the lack of an active therapist physically present in on-line or videoconferencing programs may greatly reduce their effectiveness. It is not known if yoga practice can be successfully delivered through distance videoconferencing programs.

 

In today’s Research News article “Results from a clinical yoga program for veterans: yoga via telehealth provides comparable satisfaction and health improvements to in-person yoga.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5381127/

Schulz-Heik and colleagues compared the effectiveness of yoga classes provided to veterans with a wide variety of physical and mental health problems. The classes were either in-person or the same class delivered via videoconferencing to a remote site. The classes were offered 13 times per week. The participants were free to attend whichever classes and how many they wanted on their own schedules. All participants who attended any classes during a two-week period were asked to complete a questionnaire on their satisfaction with the classes, global health, and 16 different health symptoms. Satisfaction with classes was demonstrated as 82% rated them excellent and 98% stated that they enjoyed the classes and 98% would recommend them to a friend.

 

They found that the veterans reported significant improvement in a wide range of physical and mental health symptoms, including overall pain, back pain, headache, upset stomach, sleep problems, energy level, irritability, concentration, anger, depression, anxiety, jumpiness, disturbing memories, and other symptoms. Importantly, the in-person and videoconferencing programs demonstrated equal improvements with no significant differences found between them.

 

These are very interesting results but must be interpreted with caution. There was no active control condition. So, the reported benefits might be due to placebo effects, experimenter bias, demand characteristics, etc. The results though are similar to those reported for yoga practice in randomized controlled trials and it is reasonable to conclude that the current yoga program produced similar benefits. Regardless, it is striking that the videoconferencing program was equally effective as the in-person program. This is important as it suggests that inexpensive mindfulness training can be offered to widespread audiences. In addition, videoconferencing training is convenient for the participants, as they do not have to go to a practitioners site on a particular schedule. This, in turn, allows for the application of yoga training for the prevention and treatment of psychological and physical disorders with busy people, low income people, and even people in remote locations, thus greatly expanding the numbers of people who can benefit.

 

“yoga is being increasingly embraced by Veterans Affairs and the military looking to move veterans off addictive painkillers and offer them alternative treatments for pain.” – Emily Wax-Thibodeaux

 

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

Schulz-Heik, R. J., Meyer, H., Mahoney, L., Stanton, M. V., Cho, R. H., Moore-Downing, D. P., … Bayley, P. J. (2017). Results from a clinical yoga program for veterans: yoga via telehealth provides comparable satisfaction and health improvements to in-person yoga. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 17, 198. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-017-1705-4

 

Abstract

Background

Yoga is increasingly popular, though little data regarding its implementation in healthcare settings is available. Similarly, telehealth is being utilized more frequently to increase access to healthcare; however we know of no research on the acceptability or effectiveness of yoga delivered through telehealth. Therefore, we evaluated the feasibility, acceptability, and patient-reported effectiveness of a clinical yoga program at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center and assessed whether these outcomes differed between those participating in-person and those participating via telehealth.

Methods

Veterans who attended a yoga class at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System were invited to complete an anonymous program evaluation survey.

Results

64 Veterans completed the survey. Participants reported high satisfaction with the classes and the instructors. More than 80% of participants who endorsed a problem with pain, energy level, depression, or anxiety reported improvement in these symptoms. Those who participated via telehealth did not differ from those who participated in-person in any measure of satisfaction, overall improvement (p = .40), or improvement in any of 16 specific health problems.

Conclusions

Delivering yoga to a wide range of patients within a healthcare setting appears to be feasible and acceptable, both when delivered in-person and via telehealth. Patients in this clinical yoga program reported high levels of satisfaction and improvement in multiple problem areas. This preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of a clinical yoga program complements prior evidence for the efficacy of yoga and supports the use of yoga in healthcare settings.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5381127/

Bikram Yoga Does Not Affect Cardiovascular Risk Factors with Healthy Participants

Bikram Yoga Does Not Affect Cardiovascular Risk Factors with Healthy Participants

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack.” (Centers for Disease Control). A myriad of treatments has been developed for heart disease including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. But the safest effective treatments are lifestyle changes. These include quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses. Other safe and effective treatments are contemplative practices, such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. These practices have also been shown to be helpful for producing the kinds of lifestyle changes needed such as smoking cessation, weight reduction, and stress reduction.

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

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

 

Abstract

Background

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

Methods

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

Results

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

Conclusions

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

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

 

Improve Mental and Physical Health with Yoga

Improve Mental and Physical Health with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“As an osteopathic physician, I focus a lot of my efforts on preventive medicine and practices, and in the body’s ability to heal itself. Yoga is a great tool for staying healthy because it is based on similar principles.” – Natalie Nevins

 

Yoga practice has been repeated demonstrated in research studies to be beneficial for the psychological and physical health of the practitioners. But, yoga is a complex of practices including postures, movements, breathing practices and meditation. In addition, there are a wide variety of practices including Vinyoga, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bikram, Power, Kundalini, Sivananda, Kripalu, Anusara, and Hatha, and others. To better utilize yoga practice for particular issues, it would be useful to examine which components of yoga practice benefits which areas of mental and physical health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Cross-sectional analysis of health-related quality of life and elements of yoga practice.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5282804/

Birdee and colleagues recruited a national sample of yoga practitioners and asked them to complete measures of yoga practice characteristics, including adherence, length of practice, the perceived importance, practice of breathing, movement, and meditation practice, and also health related quality of life, which included measures of global mental and global physical health. They then performed correlational analysis to investigate the relationships between the characteristics of the practice and mental and physical health.

 

They found that the greater the inclusion of meditation in the yoga practice and the more the practice was in a group, the better the mental health of the practitioners. On the other hand, the longer they were practicing, the greater the teacher training, Viniyoga style, and practicing in a yoga studio, the greater the physical health of the practitioners. These are, of course, correlational findings and thus causal connections cannot be concluded. But the relationships are interesting and suggestive that how yoga is practiced makes a difference. In addition, the results only apply to yoga practitioners and there was no comparison to non-practitioners. So, the overall benefits were not assessed only the relative benefits within practitioners only.

 

Yoga has been well established to promote physical health. The findings, though, suggest that it is personalized instruction by experienced, and certified instructors, practiced in yoga studios that produces optimum health benefits. Vinyoga is an individualized practice where the instructor develops a personalized yoga program for the student based on such factors as health, age, and physical condition, including past or current injuries or illnesses. This suggests that when it comes to physical health, one size does not fit all. Tailoring the practice to the specific needs of the student is very important. In addition, the more years spent practicing, the greater the health benefits. These results indicate that learning to do yoga properly is a key to better health. Hence, for optimum physical benefit yoga need to be individualized, professionally taught, and practiced over a long period.

 

The mental health benefits of yoga, on the other hand, are more related to the meditative and social aspects of the practice. It is not surprising that the meditative aspect of yoga was related to mental health as meditation has been demonstrated repeatedly to improve mental health. It is interesting, though, that only this aspect along with practicing socially was associated with better mental health. Perhaps, putting one in greater contact with their inner life is a key.

 

So, improve mental and physical health with yoga.

 

“Workout fads come and go, but virtually no other exercise program is as enduring as yoga. It’s been around for more than 5,000 years. Yoga does more than burn calories and tone muscles. It’s a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation.” – WebMD

 

 

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

Birdee, G. S., Ayala, S. G., & Wallston, K. A. (2017). Cross-sectional analysis of health-related quality of life and elements of yoga practice. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 17, 83. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-017-1599-1

 

Abstract

Background

Mind-body practices such as yoga have been studied for their generally positive effects on health-related quality of life (HRQOL). The association between how a person practices yoga and the person’s HRQOL is not known.

Materials and methods

Yoga practitioners were sent invitations to participate in an online survey via email. Yoga characteristics, HRQOL, and other sociodemographics were collected. Analyses of data from 309 consenting responders evaluated associations between yoga practice characteristics (use of yoga tools, length of practice, location, method, etc.) and the 10-item PROMIS Global Health scale for both physical and mental health components.

Results

Multivariable regression models demonstrated higher mental health scores were associated with regular meditation practice, higher income, and the method of practicing in a community group class (versus one-on-one). Higher physical health scores were associated with length of lifetime practice, teacher status, Krishnamacharya yoga style, and practicing in a yoga school/studio (versus at home).

Conclusions

Meditation practice in yoga is positively associated with mental health. Length of lifetime yoga practice was significantly associated with better physical health, suggesting yoga has a potential cumulative benefit over time. Different locations and methods of practice may be associated with varying effects on health outcomes. Comparative cross-sectional and longitudinal studies on the variations in yoga practice are needed to further characterize health benefits of yoga.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5282804/

 

 

Improve Quality of Life in Borderline Patients with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“One problem that clients with borderline personality disorder face is that their behaviors are often ruled by emotions. This frequently leads to destructive behaviors such as drug use, risky sexual encounters, and self-injury. The goal of mindfulness as used in DBT is to get patients to recognize these patterns so they can act more thoughtfully.”Christina Olenchek

 

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a very serious mental illness that is estimated to affect 1.6% of the U.S. population. It involves unstable moods, behavior, and relationships, problems with regulating emotions and thoughts, impulsive and reckless behavior, and unstable relationships. In addition, 30 to 90 % of BPD cases are associated with high rates of early traumatic experiences including sexual, physical and emotional abuse. BPD is associated with high rates of co-occurring depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, self-harm, suicidal behaviors, and completed suicides. BPD is dangerous as it can propel the sufferer, on the spur of the moment, to overreact to anger, take drugs, harm themselves, and even terminate their lives.  Needless to say it is widespread, debilitating, and markedly reduces health and health related quality of life.

 

BPD has not responded well to a variety of therapies with the exception of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). It is significant that a difference between DBT and other therapies is that it emphasizes mindfulness. This suggests that mindfulness training may be essential in treating Borderline Personality Disorder and impulsivity. The effectiveness of DBT has been only demonstrated in adults. But Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) also can occur in adolescents. But, it is not known if DBT may be effective for adolescents with BPD and can improve their health and quality of life.

 

In today’s Research News article “Health related quality of life for young people receiving dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT): a routine outcome-monitoring pilot.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1370544862969436/?type=3&theater

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

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4954798/

Swales and colleagues received and summarized data from 4 different programs that administered Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to adolescents with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). They obtained health status data including mobility, self-care, usual activities, pain or discomfort and anxiety and depression. They found that DBT produced a significant improvement in health status and health related quality of life with a clinically significant large effect size. Comparison of these results to those obtained in other studies with adults indicated that the results for the adolescents were comparable or better.

 

These are interesting findings but they suffer from the lack of a control comparison condition. It should be kept in mind, however, that Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) rarely improves even with other forms of treatment. So, it is unlikely that these youths spontaneously got better or responded to a placebo effect. The results are important in that they demonstrate for the first time that DBT is effective for BPD in adolescents, improving their health and health related quality of life. Hence, mindfulness training appears to be an important of successful treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in adolescents.

 

So, improve quality of life in borderline patients with mindfulness.

 

“Many people with BPD have comorbid conditions, which often include mood disorders, anxiety disorders, or substance-use disorders. Studies show that mindfulness helps for many of these.” – Blaise Aguirre

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

Swales, M., Hibbs, R. A. B., Bryning, L., & Hastings, R. P. (2016). Health related quality of life for young people receiving dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT): a routine outcome-monitoring pilot. SpringerPlus, 5(1), 1137. http://doi.org/10.1186/s40064-016-2826-9

 

Abstract

Purpose: Adults presenting with borderline personality disorder (BPD) score poorly on measures of health related quality of life (HRQoL). Little is known about HRQoL in adolescents with BPD type presentations and how treatment impacts quality of life. Our primary aim was to use routinely collected quality-of-life outcome measures pre and post-treatment in dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) for adolescents to address this gap. Secondary aims were to benchmark these data against EuroQol 5 dimensions (EQ-5D™) outcomes for clients treated in clinical trials and to assess the potential of the EQ-5D™ as a benchmarking tool.

Method: Four adolescent DBT teams, routinely collecting outcome data using a pseudonymised secure web-based system, supplied data from consecutive discharges.

Results: Young people in the DBT programmes (n = 43) had severely impaired HRQoL scores that were lower at programme admission than those reported in published studies using the EQ-5D™ in adults with a BPD diagnosis and in one study of adolescents treated for depression. 40 % of adolescents treated achieved Reliable Clinical Change. HRQoL improved between admission and discharge with a large effect size. These results were not statistically significant when clustering in programme outcomes was accounted for.

Conclusion: Young people treated in NHS DBT programmes for BPD type presentations had poorer HRQoL than adults with a BPD diagnosis and adolescents with depression treated in published clinical trials. The EQ-5D™ detected reliable change in this group of adolescents. Programme outcome clustering suggests that both the measure and the web-based monitoring system provide a mechanism for benchmarking clinical programmes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4954798/

 

Reduce Stress and Improve Health with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“If you have unproductive worries, you can train yourself to experience those thoughts completely differently. You might think ‘I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!’ Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that—a thought, and not a part of my core self,’” – Elizabeth. Hoge

 

We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for our overall well-being, including our psychological and physical health. Indeed, the work environment has even become an important part of our social lives, with friendships and leisure time activities often attached to the work environment. But, more than half of employees in the U.S. and nearly 2/3 worldwide are unhappy at work. This is primarily due to the fact that stress is epidemic in the workplace. A recent Harris poll found that 80 percent of workers feel stressed about one or more things in the workplace. This stress can lead to physical and psychological problems for managers and employees, including fatigue, sleep problems, depression, absenteeism, lower productivity, lower job satisfaction, and personal and professional burnout. Indeed, 46.4% of employees, report having psychological distress.

 

Mindfulness training of employees is a potential help with work related stress. It has been shown to reduce the psychological and physical reactions to stress overall and particularly in the workplace and to reduce burnout. A problem in implementing mindfulness programs in the workplace is the time required for the training. This makes many managers reticent to try it. So, it is important to develop programs that do not seriously impact on work time. A mindfulness training program that can be delivered quickly in a single session would be optimum. In today’s Research News article “Effect of yoga based techniques on stress and health indices using electro photonic imaging technique in managers.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1333462190011037/?type=3&theater

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

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4969271/

Kushwah and colleagues investigate the effectiveness of Cyclic Meditation on stress and psychological well-being in managers. Cyclic Meditation is a mixture of meditation practice and yoga postures that are alternated. It can be implemented in a single 35-minute session. They recruited managers and assigned them randomly to either receive a Cyclic Meditation practice or a 35-minute period of supine rest. Assessments of health status and stress were measured with an indirect Electro Photonic Imaging (EPI) technique that was taken before and after the practice.

 

They found that that the Cyclic Meditation group in comparison to the rest group had a significant, 14.5%, reduction in stress and an 18.5% increase in health status. This is potentially an important finding as the intervention was delivered in a single 35-minute session. This may be highly acceptable for managers in the workplace and make it more likely that they would participate. This would also be a cost-effective strategy that would be acceptable to cost conscious employers.

 

The findings, however, are very short-term. More research is needed to determine if the single intervention has lasting effects or if the effects can be sustained by repeated, perhaps daily practice. It is impossible to determine if the meditative component or the yoga component of the practice or both in combination were responsible for the effects. Since, both meditation practice and yoga practice have been shown separately to reduce stress, it is likely that both were responsible for the current effects. More research is needed to investigate whether their effects are additive in reducing stress and improving health.

 

So, reduce stress and improve health with meditation.

 

“Meditation is a simple technique that, if practiced for as few as 10 minutes each day, can help you control stress, decrease anxiety, improve cardiovascular health, and achieve a greater capacity for relaxation.” – WebMD

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

Kushwah, K. K., Srinivasan, T. M., Nagendra, H. R., & Ilavarasu, J. V. (2016). Effect of yoga based techniques on stress and health indices using electro photonic imaging technique in managers. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 7(2), 119–123. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaim.2015.05.001

Abstract

Background: Meditation techniques are known to elicit relaxation response in which moving meditation which combines the practice of yoga postures and guided relaxation is known as Cyclic Meditation reported helpful in reducing the sympathetic arousal and improving health of practitioners.

Objectives: The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of Cyclic Meditation on stress and health indices in managers as measured by Electro Photonic Imaging (EPI) technique.

Materials and methods: EPI technique was used to assess participants before and after 35 min of Cyclic Meditation (CM) and equal duration of Supine Rest (SR) session. A total of sixty six male managers, age ranges from 35 to 60 years (mean ± SD 53.97 ± 5.96) were included in the study. EPI parameters, including Activation Coefficient, Integral Area left and right and Integral Entropy, left and right were taken for statistical analyses.

Results: Cyclic Meditation has produced a highly significant reduction in stress level, whereas this reduction was not found significant within SR group. There was a significant improvement in health index ‘Integral Area’ values in both left and right sides within the CM group while only IA right side showed a significant improvement within the CM group. The integral entropy value right side decreased significantly within the CM group, whereas IE left was found deteriorated within the SR group. Moreover, only IE left side has shown a significant difference between the groups.

Conclusion: The investigations in this study suggest that Cyclic Meditation practice reduces stress and improves psychosomatic health indices more effectively than Supine Rest in managers.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4969271/

 

Improve Heart Failure Treatment Adherence with Spirituality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Given the mechanism by which we think religion/spirituality influences physical health, i.e., through psychosocial and behavioral pathways, and the strong influence that psychosocial and behavioral factors have on risk of developing cardiovascular disease, there is no medical condition that R/S is more likely to influence than CVD.” – Fernando A. Lucchese

 

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. Contemplative practices, such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. In addition, mindfulness practices have also been shown to be helpful for producing the kinds of other lifestyle changes needed such as smoking cessation, weight reduction, and stress reduction. Mindfulness has also been shown to be linked to spirituality and

Spirituality and religiosity are known to help with a wide range of physical and psychological problems. So, it would make sense to investigate the relationship of spirituality and religiosity to recovery from heart failure.

 

In today’s Research News article “Association between Spirituality and Adherence to Management in Outpatients with Heart Failure.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1332516243438965/?type=3&theater

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

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4940148/

Alvarez and colleagues measured adherence to therapy, quality of life, depression, religiosity and spirituality in adult patients with heart failure. They found that there were significant relationships between spirituality and adherence to pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic therapy, such that the higher the spirituality of the patient the greater the adherence. This was true for all of the spirituality subscales including spiritual connection, meaning of life, awe and wonder, wholeness & integration, spiritual strength, inner peace, hope & optimism and faith and was also true for intrinsic religiosity but not overall religiosity. They also found that the higher the levels of spirituality the higher the quality of life, both overall and disease specific, and the lower the depression.

 

It should be pointed out that these results are correlational and as such causation cannot be concluded. It could be that the kinds of people who tend to adhere to medical recommendations are also the kinds of people who pursue spirituality. It will take a study where spirituality is manipulated to establish a causal connection.

 

These findings indicate that spirituality has very positive relationships with adherence and quality of life and negative relationship to depression in heart failure patients. Adherence is particularly significant. One of the biggest challenges in all of medicine is to get patients to actually take the prescribed medications, perform the recommended life style changes, and participate in the prescribed therapy sessions. So, increasing adherence is very important for increasing the likelihood of patients getting the full benefit of their medical recommendations. For heart failure patients this could literally be the difference between life and death. These findings, like many others, point to the importance of spirituality and intrinsic religiosity, but not simple participation in religion, in the health and well-being of the individual.

 

So, improve heart failure treatment adherence with spirituality.

 

“the link between improved health and spiritual wellbeing was at least partially explained by the role gratitude plays in spirituality. It seems that a more grateful heart is indeed a more healthy heart. Gratitude journaling is an easy way to support cardiac health.” –  Paul Mills

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

Alvarez, J. S., Goldraich, L. A., Nunes, A. H., Zandavalli, M. C. B., Zandavalli, R. B., Belli, K. C., … Clausell, N. (2016). Association between Spirituality and Adherence to Management in Outpatients with Heart Failure. Arquivos Brasileiros de Cardiologia, 106(6), 491–501. http://doi.org/10.5935/abc.20160076

 

Abstract

Background: Spirituality may influence how patients cope with their illness.

Objectives: We assessed whether spirituality may influence adherence to management of outpatients with heart failure.

Methods: Cross sectional study enrolling consecutive ambulatory heart failure patients in whom adherence to multidisciplinary treatment was evaluated. Patients were assessed for quality of life, depression, religiosity and spirituality utilizing validated questionnaires. Correlations between adherence and psychosocial variables of interest were obtained. Logistic regression models explored independent predictors of adherence.

Results: One hundred and thirty patients (age 60 ± 13 years; 67% male) were interviewed. Adequate adherence score was observed in 38.5% of the patients. Neither depression nor religiosity was correlated to adherence, when assessed separately. Interestingly, spirituality, when assessed by both total score sum (r = 0.26; p = 0.003) and by all specific domains, was positively correlated to adherence. Finally, the combination of spirituality, religiosity and personal beliefs was an independent predictor of adherence when adjusted for demographics, clinical characteristics and psychosocial instruments.

Conclusion: Spirituality, religiosity and personal beliefs were the only variables consistently associated with compliance to medication in a cohort of outpatients with heart failure. Our data suggest that adequately addressing these aspects on patient’s care may lead to an improvement in adherence patterns in the complex heart failure management.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4940148/

 

Improve Health with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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 systemreduce inflammation and increase the number of cancer killing cells in the bloodstream.

 

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. In today’s Research News article “An evidence map of the effect of Tai Chi on health outcomes.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1316431988380724/?type=3&theater

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

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4962385/  Solloway and colleagues review the published research literature on the health effects of Tai Chi practice. They summarized previously published reviews and meta-analyses of the research. In other words, they performed a summary of summaries.

 

They report that Tai Chi has been shown to be helpful for balance and fall prevention, particularly in the elderly, and with hypertension, reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. It was also found to improve cognitive performance, pain, osteoarthritis pain and joint stiffness, muscle strength, improved chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and relief of depression.

 

These results are very encouraging and suggest that Tai Chi is effective for a number of health conditions. It has so many advantages as a therapy that it should be considered for not only treatment but also prevention of disease and promotion of health especially in the elderly and vulnerable populations. Among its many advantages is low cost. Training can occur in relatively large groups and it can be practiced virtually anywhere alone or in groups. In addition, it’s safe, having no known adverse outcomes.

 

So, improve health with tai chi.

 

“A growing body of carefully conducted research is building a compelling case for tai chi as an adjunct to standard medical treatment for the prevention and rehabilitation of many conditions commonly associated with age.” – Peter M. Wayne

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

Solloway, M. R., Taylor, S. L., Shekelle, P. G., Miake-Lye, I. M., Beroes, J. M., Shanman, R. M., & Hempel, S. (2016). An evidence map of the effect of Tai Chi on health outcomes. Systematic Reviews, 5, 126. http://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-016-0300-y

 

Abstract

Background: This evidence map describes the volume and focus of Tai Chi research reporting health outcomes. Originally developed as a martial art, Tai Chi is typically taught as a series of slow, low-impact movements that integrate the breath, mind, and physical activity to achieve greater awareness and a sense of well-being.

Methods: The evidence map is based on a systematic review of systematic reviews. We searched 11 electronic databases from inception to February 2014, screened reviews of reviews, and consulted with topic experts. We used a bubble plot to graphically display clinical topics, literature size, number of reviews, and a broad estimate of effectiveness.

Results: The map is based on 107 systematic reviews. Two thirds of the reviews were published in the last five years. The topics with the largest number of published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were general health benefits (51 RCTs), psychological well-being (37 RCTs), interventions for older adults (31 RCTs), balance (27 RCTs), hypertension (18 RCTs), fall prevention (15 RCTs), and cognitive performance (11 RCTs). The map identified a number of areas with evidence of a potentially positive treatment effect on patient outcomes, including Tai Chi for hypertension, fall prevention outside of institutions, cognitive performance, osteoarthritis, depression, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pain, balance confidence, and muscle strength. However, identified reviews cautioned that firm conclusions cannot be drawn due to methodological limitations in the original studies and/or an insufficient number of existing research studies.

Conclusions: Tai Chi has been applied in diverse clinical areas, and for a number of these, systematic reviews have indicated promising results. The evidence map provides a visual overview of Tai Chi research volume and content.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4962385/