Improve Motor Ability in Parkinson’s Disease Patients with Tai Chi

Improve Motor Ability in Parkinson’s Disease Patients with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Tai chi, a balance-based exercise, has been shown to improve strength, balance, and physical function and to prevent falls in older adults. . . it may also improve axial symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as postural stability.” – Fuzhong Li

 

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is an incurable progressive degenerative disease of the central nervous system. The condition is caused by the death of nerve cells in the brain that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. There are around seven million people worldwide and one million people in the U.S. living with PD and about 60,000 people are diagnosed with PD every year. PD is associated with aging as most patients are diagnosed after age 50. In fact, it has been speculated that everyone would eventually develop PD if they lived long enough.

 

Its physical symptoms include resting tremor, slow movements, muscle rigidity, problems with posture and balance, loss of automatic movements, and slurring of speech. PD itself is not fatal but is often associated with related complications which can reduce life expectancy, such as falls, choking, and cardiovascular problems. PD also has psychological effects, especially cognitive decline, anxiety, and depression. Balance is a particular problem as it effects mobility and increases the likelihood of falls, restricting activity and reducing quality of life.

 

There are no cures for Parkinson’s Disease (PD) or even treatments to slow its progression. There are only treatments that can produce symptomatic relief. So, there is a need to discover new and different treatments. Mindfulness training has been found to improve the psychological symptoms and the quality of life with PD patients.  In addition, combinations of mindfulness and exercise such as Tai Chi and yoga practices have been shown to improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. The evidence is accumulating. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned about the effectiveness of Tai Chi practice for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Impact of Tai Chi on Motor Function, Balance, and Quality of Life in Parkinson’s Disease: 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/PMC7814935/ ) Yu and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of Tai Chi practices for treatment of Parkinson’s Disease. They identified 17 randomized controlled trials containing a total of 951 patients with Parkinson’s Disease.

 

They report that the published research found that Tai Chi practice was safe and effective producing significant increases in the patient’s gait velocity, balance confidence, timed up and go, and balance. Hence, the published research found highly significant evidence that Tai Chi practice results in improvements in movements and balance in patients with Parkinson’s Disease.

 

The improvements in balance are reflected in the previous observations that Tai Chi practice reduces the likelihood of falls in the elderly and in patients with Parkinson’s Disease. Since, falls are a significant source of disability and even death, the improvement in balance alone justifies the recommendation of Tai Chi practice for patients with Parkinson’s Disease.

 

So, improve motor ability in Parkinson’s Disease patients with Tai Chi.

 

The incorporation of Tai Chi in the daily life of Parkinson’s disease patients allowed them to stay functionally and physically active.” – Alison Rodriguez

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Yu, X., Wu, X., Hou, G., Han, P., Jiang, L., & Guo, Q. (2021). The Impact of Tai Chi on Motor Function, Balance, and Quality of Life in Parkinson’s Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2021, 6637612. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/6637612

 

Abstract

Objective

Parkinson’s disease adversely affects function and quality of life, leading to increased mortality. The practice of Tai Chi has been associated with multifaceted improvements in health-related fitness. Considering the limited number of clinical studies included in previous reviews, inconsistent methodological quality, and inconclusive results, this meta-analysis aims to assess the effects of Tai Chi in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Method

Four English language databases and four Chinese databases were systematically searched for existing randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of Tai Chi in Parkinson’s disease from database inception through August 1, 2020. Methodological quality was appraised with the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool. A meta-analysis of comparative effects was performed using the Review Manager v.5.3 software.

Results

Seventeen published RCTs totaling 951 subjects were included. Results showed that Tai Chi has a statistically significant effect on the outcomes of gait velocity, unified Parkinson’s disease rating scale (UPDRS) motor score, activities-specific balance confidence (ABC) score, and Berg Balance Scale (BBS). The effects on the Timed Up and Go Test (TUGT) and Parkinson’s Disease Questionnaire-39 (PDQ-39) were not statistically significant.

Conclusions

This systematic review and meta-analysis of Parkinson’s disease and Tai Chi suggests Tai Chi is a relatively safe activity that can result in gains in general motor function and improve bradykinesia and balance. It has no statistically significant advantage for quality of life and functional mobility. Further randomized trials with larger sample sizes and of higher methodological quality are needed to confirm these results and to assess the feasibility of Tai Chi intervention for potential different clinical applications.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7814935/

 

Improve Physical Ability, Balance, and Flexibility with Tai Chi

Improve Physical Ability, Balance, and Flexibility with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Tai Chi is a relatively safe activity that can result in gains in general motor function and improve bradykinesia and balance. “ – Xiny Yu

 

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese practice involving mindfulness and gentle movements. It is easy to learn, safe, and gentle. Tai Chi has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevityTai Chi training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through controlled breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. Only recently though have the physical and motor effects of this practice been scrutinized with empirical research. The findings have been accumulating. So, it makes sense to summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of Tai Chi on muscle strength, physical endurance, postural balance and flexibility: 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/PMC7871341/ ) Wehner and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the published research findings from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of the effects of Tai Chi training on physical ability, strength, balance, and flexibility. They identified 31 published randomized controlled trials that included mostly participants over 60 years of age.

 

They report that the published research found that Tai Chi practice produce a significant increase in hand grip strength, timed walking distance, postural balance, and spine flexibility. These findings suggest that engaging in Tai Chi practice results in improved health-related fitness. This is particularly important for aging individuals where physical decline is inevitable and suggests an increased health-related quality of life. The improvements in balance are important as they signal a decreased likelihood of falls which are very dangerous for the elderly.

 

So, improve physical ability, balance, and flexibility with Tai Chi.

 

our main finding suggests a statistically significant general improvement in motor efficiency for the TC group.” – Luisa Sartori

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Wehner, C., Blank, C., Arvandi, M., Wehner, C., & Schobersberger, W. (2021). Effect of Tai Chi on muscle strength, physical endurance, postural balance and flexibility: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine, 7(1), e000817. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjsem-2020-000817

 

What is already known?

  • Tai Chi training has positive effects on a variety of chronic diseases (eg, osteoarthritis) and health-related issues (eg, reduced risk of falling).
  • Tai Chi training exerts a positive impact not only on physical parameters, but also on mental health.
  • There is good evidence for positive effects of Tai Chi training for older people and patient populations, as most previous studies concentrated on these populations.

What are the new findings?

  • There is evidence that Tai Chi training can also moderately improve physical fitness as measured by tests commonly applied in health-related fitness or competitive sports contexts; for healthy people such tests are more relevant compared with the clinical assessment tools used for unfit and patient populations. Improvements were observed in handgrip strength, functional capacity, postural balance and thoracolumbar flexibility.
  • We hypothesise that not only slow motions of the legs and kicking movements while standing on one leg, which are characteristic in Tai Chi but also the improvement of thoracolumbar flexibility enhance postural balance.

Abstract

Objective

To investigate the impact of Tai Chi training on muscle strength, physical endurance, postural balance and flexibility, as measured by tests commonly used in health-related fitness or competitive sports contexts.

Design

Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources

The following databases were searched up to 31 July 2020: CINAHL, Cochrane Library, MEDLINE via PubMed and SPORTDiscus.

Eligibility criteria for studies

Inclusion: (1) Randomised controlled trials published in German or English; (2) Tai Chi used as an intervention to improve physical performance; (3) Test methods commonly used in health-related fitness or competitive sports and (4) Participants aged ≥16 years (irrespective of health status). Exclusion: (1) Studies not focusing on Tai Chi or including Tai Chi mixed with other interventions and (2) Modified or less than eight Tai Chi movements.

Results

Out of 3817 records, 31 studies were included in the review, 21 of them in the meta-analysis. Significant improvements in handgrip strength (2.34 kg, 95% CI 1.53 to 3.14), walking distance during 6 min (43.37 m, 95% CI 29.12 to 57.63), standing time in single-leg-stance with open eyes (6.41 s, 95% CI 4.58 to 8.24) and thoracolumbar spine flexibility (2.33 cm, 95% CI 0.11 to 4.55) were observed.

Conclusion

Tai Chi training seems to moderately improve physical fitness when evaluated by tests used in health-related fitness or competitive sports. Moreover, thoracolumbar spine flexibility seems to be a factor in the improvement of postural balance. Further research is needed, including younger healthy participants performing a widely used, standardised form (eg, Peking-style routine) with high-intensity movements (eg, use of lower stances).

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7871341/

 

Tai Chi Practice Improves the Symptoms of Multiple Diseases

Tai Chi Practice Improves the Symptoms of Multiple Diseases

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“In addition to easing balance problems, and possibly other symptoms, tai chi can help ease stress and anxiety and strengthen all parts of the body, with few if any harmful side effects.” Peter Wayne

 

Tai Chi is an ancient mindfulness practice involving slow prescribed movements. It is gentle and completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it 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. Indeed, studies have shown that Tai Chi practice is effective in improving the symptoms of many different diseases. The evidence is accumulating. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned about the effectiveness of different Tai Chi practices for different disease conditions.

 

In today’s Research News article “.Clinical Evidence of Tai Chi Exercise Prescriptions: A Systematic Review” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7972853/ ) Huang and colleagues review and summarize the published randomized controlled trials on the effectiveness of different Tai Chi practices for different disease conditions. They identified 139 published randomized controlled trials utilizing a number of different Tai Chi styles and numbers of forms. Yang style was by far the most frequent style and 24 forms was the most frequent number of forms employed.

 

They report that the published research found that Tai Chi practice produced significant improvement in the symptoms of musculoskeletal system or connective tissue diseases such as osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic low back pain.; on circulatory system diseases such as hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease, and chronic heart failure; on mental and behavioral disorders such as depression, cognitive impairment, and intellectual disabilities; on nervous system diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and sleep disorders; on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); on endocrine, nutritional, or metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome; on the physical and mental state of cancer patients, and on traumatic brain injury and urinary tract disorders; on balance control and flexibility and falls in older adults.

 

These are remarkable findings. Tai Chi practice appears to be a safe and effective treatment for the symptoms of a wide variety of diseases. It doesn’t cure the disease. Rather if alleviates the symptoms. It is not known the mechanisms by which Tai Chi has these benefits. Future research needs to further explore what facets or effects of Tai Chi practice are responsible for the disease symptom improvements.

 

So, Tai Chi practice improves the symptoms of multiple diseases.

 

Tai Chi and Qigong are evidence-based approaches to improve health-related quality of life, and they may be effective for a range of physical health conditions.” – Ryan Abbott

 

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

 

Huang, J., Wang, D., & Wang, J. (2021). Clinical Evidence of Tai Chi Exercise Prescriptions: A Systematic Review. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 2021, 5558805. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/5558805

 

Abstract

Objectives

This systematic review aims to summarize the existing literature on Tai Chi randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and recommend Tai Chi exercise prescriptions for different diseases and populations.

Methods

A systematic search for Tai Chi RCTs was conducted in five electronic databases (PubMed, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, EBSCO, and Web of Science) from their inception to December 2019. SPSS 20.0 software and Microsoft Excel 2019 were used to analyze the data, and the risk of bias tool in the RevMan 5.3.5 software was used to evaluate the methodological quality of RCTs.

Results

A total of 139 articles were identified, including diseased populations (95, 68.3%) and healthy populations (44, 31.7%). The diseased populations included the following 10 disease types: musculoskeletal system or connective tissue diseases (34.7%), circulatory system diseases (23.2%), mental and behavioral disorders (12.6%), nervous system diseases (11.6%), respiratory system diseases (6.3%), endocrine, nutritional or metabolic diseases (5.3%), neoplasms (3.2%), injury, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes (1.1%), genitourinary system diseases (1.1%), and diseases of the eye and adnexa (1.1%). Tai Chi exercise prescription was generally classified as moderate intensity. The most commonly applied Tai Chi style was Yang style (92, 66.2%), and the most frequently specified Tai Chi form was simplified 24-form Tai Chi (43, 30.9%). 12 weeks and 24 weeks, 2-3 times a week, and 60 min each time was the most commonly used cycle, frequency, and time of exercise in Tai Chi exercise prescriptions.

Conclusions

We recommend the more commonly used Tai Chi exercise prescriptions for different diseases and populations based on clinical evidence of Tai Chi. Further clinical research on Tai Chi should be combined with principles of exercise prescription to conduct large-sample epidemiological studies and long-term prospective follow-up studies to provide more substantive clinical evidence for Tai Chi exercise prescriptions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7972853/

 

Improve Balance and Exercise Capacity in Stroke Patients with Tai Chi

Improve Balance and Exercise Capacity in Stroke Patients with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“With a complete focus on slow, controlled, and repetitive movements, tai chi is effective in improving one’s balance through dynamic motion and coordination, which is crucial to prevent falls. What many people may not know is that stroke survivors endure seven times as many falls each year as healthy adults.” – Henry Hoffman

 

Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke and it is the third leading cause of death, killing around 140,000 Americans each year. A stroke results from an interruption of the blood supply to the brain, depriving it of needed oxygen and nutrients. This can result in the death of brain cells and depending on the extent of the damage produce profound loss of function. Even after recovery from stroke patients can experience residual symptoms. Problems with balance and falling are very common. About 30% of stroke survivors develop spasticity, where the muscles become stiff, tighten up, and resist stretching. Obviously, spasticity can interfere with regaining movement after stroke.

 

The ancient mindful movement technique Tai Chi and Qigong are very safe forms of gentle exercise that appears to be beneficial for stroke victims including improving balanceTai Chi involves both gentle exercise and mindfulness practice. Much has been learned. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize the research findings.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Influences of Tai Chi on Balance Function and Exercise Capacity among Stroke Patients: A Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7932789/ ) Zheng and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials of the effectiveness of Tai Chi practice for the rehabilitation of stroke survivors. They identified 19 published randomized controlled trials.

 

They found that Tai Chi practice produced a significant improvement in balance. Standing and walking ability, 6-minute walking distance, gravity center swing, and exercise ability. Hence, the published randomized controlled trials make a strong case that Tai Chi practice is a safe and effective non-drug treatment to improve the balance and motor ability of stroke patients. These improvements should reduce the incidence of dangerous falls and improve the overall health and quality of life of these patients.

 

Tai Chi practice is not strenuous, involves 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 such as stroke. It can also be practiced without professional supervision and in groups making it inexpensive to deliver and fun to engage in. This makes Tai Chi practice an excellent means to help improve the balance and exercise capacity of stroke patients.

 

Tai Chi has an overall beneficial effect on activities of daily living, balance, limb motor function, and walking ability among stroke survivors. . . and may also improve sleep quality, mood, mental health, and other motor function.” – Diyang Lyu

 

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

 

Zheng, X., Wu, X., Liu, Z., Wang, J., Wang, K., Yin, J., & Wang, X. (2021). The Influences of Tai Chi on Balance Function and Exercise Capacity among Stroke Patients: A Meta-Analysis. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2021, 6636847. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/6636847

 

Abstract

Objective

This study aims to explore the influences of Tai Chi on the balance function and exercise capacity among stroke patients.

Methods

Databases including PubMed, Embase, WOS (Web of Science), the Cochrane Library, CNKI (China National Knowledge Infrastructure), Wanfang Data, VIP (VIP database), and CBM (China Biology Medicine disc) were retrieved to gather the figures of randomized controlled trials on the balance function and exercise capacity among stroke patients. Then relevant data were input and analyzed in Review Manager 5.3.

Results

Nineteen papers were included and analyzed in this study. According to the combined effect size, the balance function of stroke patients improved significantly: the Berg Balance Function Scale score [MD = 7.67, 95% CI (3.44, 11.90)]; standing and walking test scores [MD = 3.42, 95% CI (4.22, −2.63)]; gravity swing area [MD = 0.79, 95% CI (1.48, 0.10)]; and gravity swing speed [MD = −5.43, 95% CI (−7.79, 3.08)]. In addition, the exercise capacity improved significantly as well: the FMA (Fugl-Meyer Assessment Scale) scale score [MD = 4.15, 95% CI (1.68, 6.63)]. There are no significant influences or changes of other related results.

Conclusions

Stroke patients are able to improve their balance functions and exercise capacities prominently when they do Tai Chi exercise once or twice a week and ≥5 times/week and >30 ≤ 60 min/time.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7932789/

 

Improve Balance in the Elderly with Traditional Tai Chi or Augmented Reality-Assisted Tai-Chi

Improve Balance in the Elderly with Traditional Tai Chi or Augmented Reality-Assisted Tai-Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese exercise that can help older adults improve their balance and lower their fall risk.” – Harvard Health

 

The process of aging affects every aspect of the physical and cognitive domains. Every system in the body deteriorates including motor function with a decline in strength, flexibility, and balance. Impaired balance 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.

 

Falls, with or without injury, also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults, fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness. It is obviously important to discover methods to improve balance and decrease the number of falls in the elderly.

 

Tai Chi training is designed to enhance and regulate the functional activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. It includes balance training and has been shown to improve balance and coordination. Indeed, Tai Chi training has been shown to reduce the frequency of falls in the elderly. It is not known, however, whether augmented reality can improve the effectiveness of Tai Chi training in improving balance.

 

In today’s Research News article “Augmented reality-assisted training with selected Tai-Chi movements improves balance control and increases lower limb muscle strength in older adults: A prospective randomized trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7265060/) Chen and colleagues recruited healthy elderly over 65 years of age and randomly assigned them to an 8-week training in either traditional 24 movement Yang Tai Chi or to an Augmented form of Tai Chi. Augmented Tai Chi involved a computerized monitoring of movements and video feedback on the movements and only 8 of the 24 Yang style movements were included. They were measured before and after training for balance, functional reach, timed up-and-go, and lower extremity muscle strength.

 

They found that both Tai Chi groups had significant improvements in dynamic balance and lower extremity muscle strength. While only static balance was significantly improved in the traditional Tai Chi group, both static and dynamic balance and mobility (timed up-and-go) were significantly improved in the simplified augmented Tai Chi group. The augmented Tai Chi group improved more in all measures that the traditional Tai Chi group, but the differences were not statistically significant.

 

The results demonstrate that Tai Chi training is effective in improving balance and leg muscle strength in the elderly. This is important to prevent falls. There was evidence that practicing a simplified program with computerized augmentation may produce superior results, but a larger study is needed to have the statistical power to determine if this is in fact a reliable difference. It will also be important to determine if the simplification of the movements (8 rather than 24) or the augmentation, or both are responsible for better performance.

 

One drawback of the augmented program is that it requires practice in the lab. A strength of traditional Tai Chi practice is that it can be practiced without professional supervision and in groups making it inexpensive to deliver and fun to engage in. So, although the augmented program may produce superior results, there are still considerable advantages to traditional Tai Chi for improving the health and well-being of the elderly..

 

So, improve balance in the elderly with traditional Tai Chi or augmented reality-assisted Tai-Chi.

 

When you’re practicing the movements, you’re shifting your weight from one foot to the other to maintain balance. By doing (tai chi), you become more aware of the position of your body in space — which is something we become less aware of as we age.” – Michael Irwin

 

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

 

Chen, P. J., Penn, I. W., Wei, S. H., Chuang, L. R., & Sung, W. H. (2020). Augmented reality-assisted training with selected Tai-Chi movements improves balance control and increases lower limb muscle strength in older adults: A prospective randomized trial. Journal of exercise science and fitness, 18(3), 142–147. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesf.2020.05.003

 

Abstract

Background

Tai-Chi benefits older adults by enhancing balance control and increasing the muscle strength of the lower limbs. However, a complete set of traditional Tai-Chi exercises is sometimes too difficult for beginners. We investigated whether practicing augmented reality-assisted training with selected Tai-Chi movements tailored to the practitioner’s ability (selected Tai-Chi, or sTC) is as effective as performing a complete set of Tai-Chi sequences (complete traditional Tai-Chi, or tTC).

Methods

In this prospective randomized trial carried out in the Beitou District of Taipei City, Taiwan, community-dwelling adults aged ≥65 and without any debilitating diseases (n = 28) were included. Participants were randomly assigned to the sTC group (n = 14) or the tTC group (n = 14). Participants in the sTC group practiced selected Tai-Chi movements using the augmented reality Tai-Chi training system. Participants of the tTC group were asked to complete the 24-form Yang-style Tai-Chi following the instructions of Tai-Chi masters. Each training session lasted 30 min, with 3 sessions per week for 8 weeks. Pre- and post-intervention evaluations included functional balance tests, comprising the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), Timed Up and Go test (TUG), and Functional Reach Test (FRT), as well as muscle strength measurements of the lower extremities.

Results

Pre-intervention evaluations showed significant differences in FRT (p = 0.034) and left hip abductor muscle strength (p = 0.046) between the sTC and tTC groups. After 8 weeks of training, the BBS, TUG, and FRT scores in the sTC group showed significant improvement overall. Although all three functional balance test scores improved in the tTC group, only the improvement in BBS was statistically significant (p = 0.001). After 8 weeks, all muscle strength measurements increased by an average of 3.1 ± 1.0 kgw in the sTC group and 1.6 ± 0.8 kgw in the tTC group.

Conclusions

The augmented reality-assisted training with selected Tai-Chi movements, designed based on objective measurements of the practitioner’s capability, improved balance control and muscle strength of lower limbs at least as effectively as the complete sequence of traditional Tai-Chi exercises.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7265060/

 

Improve Balance in Parkinson’s Disease with Tai Chi and Yoga

Improve Balance in Parkinson’s Disease with Tai Chi and Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

In addition to easing balance problems, and possibly other symptoms, tai chi can help ease stress and anxiety and strengthen all parts of the body, with few if any harmful side effects. . . with Parkinson’s disease.” – Peter Wayne

 

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is an incurable progressive degenerative disease of the central nervous system. The condition is caused by the death of nerve cells in the brain that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. There are around seven million people worldwide and one million people in the U.S. living with PD and about 60,000 people are diagnosed with PD every year. PD is associated with aging as the vast majority of patients are diagnosed after age 50. In fact, it has been speculated that everyone would eventually develop PD if they lived long enough.

 

Its physical symptoms include resting tremor, slow movements, muscle rigidity, problems with posture and balance, loss of automatic movements, and slurring of speech. PD itself is not fatal but is often associated with related complications which can reduce life expectancy, such as falls, choking, and cardiovascular problems. PD also has psychological effects, especially cognitive decline, anxiety, and depression. Balance is a particular problem as it effects mobility and increases the likelihood of falls, restricting activity and reducing quality of life.

 

There are no cures for Parkinson’s Disease (PD) or even treatments to slow its progression. There are only treatments that can produce symptomatic relief. So, there is a need to discover new and different treatments. Mindfulness training has been found to improve the psychological symptoms and the quality of life with PD patients.  In addition, Tai Chi and yoga practices have been shown to improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. Hence, mind-body practices may be excellent treatments for the symptoms of PD. It is important to discover which of various exercises works best to improve balance and mobility in patients with PD.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of home-based Tai Chi, Yoga or conventional balance exercise on functional balance and mobility among persons with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease: An experimental study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7136531/), Khuzema and colleagues recruited adult patients with Parkinson’s Disease and randomly assigned them to receive 5 days per week for 8 weeks for 30-40 minutes of either home based Tai Chi exercise, yoga exercise, or balance exercise training. They were measured before and after training for balance and mobility with a timed up and go test and a 10-minute walking test.

 

They found that all three exercise programs produced significant improvements in all measures. Balance increased significantly by 26.414%, 8.193% and 14.339%, Timed up and go time decreased by 22.695%, 7.187% and 8.902%, and 10-m Walk Time decreased by 24.469%, 5.914% and 8.986% in Tai Chi, yoga and balance exercise groups, respectively. Although, on average, Tai Chi exercise produced superior results on all measures, the study was too small (9 patients per group) to determine significant group differences. These results, however, support conducting a large randomized controlled trial in the future.

 

Tai Chi is an ancient mindfulness practice that involves slow prescribed movements. It is 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, it can be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. Hence Tai Chi training should be recommended to improve balance and mobility in patients with Parkinson’s Disease.

 

So, improve balance in Parkinson’s Disease with Tai Chi and Yoga.

 

Benefits of Tai Chi and Yoga for those with Parkinson’s Disease:

  1. Promotes conscious awareness of movement and actions.
  2. Increases awareness of proper body alignment/posture
  3. Improves balance with reduced fall risk
  4. Enhances flexibility
  5. Affords a greater sense of well-being
  6. Offers relaxation which can help to lessen Parkinson’s symptoms (tremor, rigidity) or manage medication side effects such as dyskinesia
  7. Improves breath support and control
  8. Helps to build healthy bones through weight-bearing activities
  9. Increases strength, especially in core muscles” – National Parkinson’s Foundation

 

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

 

Khuzema, A., Brammatha, A., & Arul Selvan, V. (2020). Effect of home-based Tai Chi, Yoga or conventional balance exercise on functional balance and mobility among persons with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease: An experimental study. Hong Kong physiotherapy journal : official publication of the Hong Kong Physiotherapy Association Limited = Wu li chih liao, 40(1), 39–49. https://doi.org/10.1142/S1013702520500055

 

Abstract

Background:

Individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) invariably experience functional decline in a number of motor and non-motor domains affecting posture, balance and gait. Numerous clinical studies have examined effects of various types of exercise on motor and non-motor problems. But still much gap remains in our understanding of various therapies and their effect on delaying or slowing the dopamine neuron degeneration. Recently, Tai Chi and Yoga both have gained popularity as complementary therapies, since both have components for mind and body control.

Objective:

The aim of this study was to determine whether eight weeks of home-based Tai Chi or Yoga was more effective than regular balance exercises on functional balance and mobility.

Methods:

Twenty-seven individuals with Idiopathic PD (Modified Hoehn and Yahr stages 2.5–3) were randomly assigned to either Tai Chi, Yoga or Conventional exercise group. All the participants were evaluated for Functional Balance and Mobility using Berg Balance Scale, Timed 10 m Walk test and Timed Up and Go test before and after eight weeks of training.

Results:

The results were analyzed using two-way mixed ANOVA which showed that there was a significant main effect for time as F (1, 24) =74.18, p=0.000, ηp2=0.76 for overall balance in Berg Balance Scale. There was also significant main effect of time on mobility overall as F(1, 24) =77.78, p=0.000, ηp2=0.76 in Timed up and Go test and F(1, 24) =48.24, p=0.000, ηp2=0.67 for 10 m Walk test. There was a significant interaction effect for time×group with F(2, 24) =8.67, p=0.001, ηp2=0.420 for balance. With respect to mobility, the values F(2, 24) =5.92, p=0.008, ηp2=0.330 in Timed Up and Go test and F(2, 24) =10.40, p=0.001, ηp2=0.464 in 10 m Walk test showed a significant interaction. But there was no significant main effect between the groups for both balance and mobility.

Conclusion:

The findings of this study suggest that Tai Chi as well as Yoga are well adhered and are attractive options for a home-based setting. As any form of physical activity is considered beneficial for individuals with PD either Tai Chi, Yoga or conventional balance exercises could be used as therapeutic intervention to optimize balance and mobility. Further studies are necessary to understand the mind–body benefits of Tai Chi and Yoga either as multicomponent physical activities or as individual therapies in various stages of PD.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7136531/

 

Improve Cognition and Balance in Older Adults with Tai Chi

Improve Cognition and Balance in Older Adults with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Tai chi combines the physical components needed to stay upright—leg strength, flexibility, range of motion, and reflexes—all of which tend to decline with age. . . “It’s like practicing tightrope walking on the ground. You’re practicing your balance and you’re teaching your body to be more sensitive and have greater strength.” – Stanwood Chang

 

The process of aging affects every aspect of the physical and cognitive domains. Every system in the body deteriorates including motor function with a decline in strength, flexibility, and balance. Impaired balance 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. It is obviously important to discover methods to improve balance and decrease the number of falls in older adults.

 

Tai Chi training is designed to enhance and regulate the functional activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. It includes balance training and has been shown to improve balance and coordination. Indeed, Tai Chi training has been shown to reduce cognitive decline and to reduce the frequency of falls in the elderly.

 

In today’s Research News article “Correlation Between Cognition and Balance Among Middle-Aged and Older Adults Observed Through a Tai Chi Intervention Program.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00668/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1302118_69_Psycho_20200416_arts_A), Xiao and colleagues recruited middle age and older health adults (average age of 59 years). They received Tai Chi training for 1 hour, 3 days per week, for 12 weeks. They were measured before and after training for global cognitive function, static and dynamic balance, body size, lower limb strength, and aerobic endurance.

 

They found in comparison to baseline after Tai Chi training there were significant increases in global cognitive function, and static and dynamic balance. Also, they found that before training the higher the levels of both dynamic and static balance the higher the levels of cognitive function. In addition, they found that the greater the increase in both static and dynamic balance after Tai Chi training, the greater the increase in cognitive function. These improvements were found to be related to increases in lower limb strength.

 

These results are interesting as both balance and cognition decline with age. Tai Chi training has been shown in prior research to reduce the decline in both with aging. To my knowledge this is the first time that these improvements appear to be linked where improvements in balance co-occur with improvements in balance. These results suggest that Tai Chi training in older adults may delay cognitive decline and also delay decline in balance. This may tend to reduce the likelihood of falls and precipitous loss of cognitive ability.

 

These findings support the use of Tai Chito improve balance and cognition in older adults. Some advantages of Tai Chi include the facts that it is not strenuous, involves 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. It can also be practiced without professional supervision and in groups making it inexpensive to deliver and fun to engage in. This makes Tai Chi practice an excellent means to improve balance and reduce falls and delay cognitive decline in older individuals.

 

So, improve cognition and balance in older adults with Tai Chi.

 

When you’re practicing the movements, you’re shifting your weight from one foot to the other to maintain balance. By doing (tai chi), you become more aware of the position of your body in space — which is something we become less aware of as we age.” – Michael Irwin

 

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

 

Xiao T, Yang L, Smith L, Loprinzi PD, Veronese N, Yao J, Zhang Z and Yu JJ (2020) Correlation Between Cognition and Balance Among Middle-Aged and Older Adults Observed Through a Tai Chi Intervention Program. Front. Psychol. 11:668. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00668

 

Abstract

Background: Age-associated decline in cognition and balance may cause severe ability loss for daily living activities among middle-aged and older adults. The relationship between cognition and balance in this aging population remains to be explored.

Objective: The present study Is exploratory in nature and aimed to examine the relationship between balance (both static and dynamic components) and global cognitive function among middle-aged and older adults through Tai Chi (TC) practice as a research avenue.

Methods: A short-term (12 weeks) intervention of TC was conducted among middle-aged and older adults in the community setting. Global cognitive function (using the Chinese version of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment score (MoCA) and balance (i.e., one leg standing test score; Timed Up and Go Test score, TUGT) of all participants were assessed before and after the intervention. Age, body mass index (BMI), sex, and physical fitness variables (Chair Stand Test, CST; the 6-Meter Walk Test, 6MWT) were also collected as confounding factors.

Results: Significant moderator effects of baseline CST on the association between the dichotomized baseline MoCA score and the baseline left leg balance score (p = 0.0247), the baseline right leg balance score (p = 0.0140) and the baseline TUGT score (p = 0.0346) were found. Change score of left score balance (p = 0.0192) and change score of TUGT (p = 0.0162) were found to be significantly associated with change score of cognitive function.

Conclusion: Cognitive function and balance are interrelated in middle-aged and older adults. The association between global cognitive function and balance Is moderated by strength of lower limbs. The change scores of cognitive function and balance introduced by TC training were found to be positively correlated. Future research Is warranted to further confirm the cause-effect relationship of cognitive function and balance and its influencing factors among middle-aged and older adults utilizing intervention studies with larger sample sizes.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00668/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1302118_69_Psycho_20200416_arts_A

 

Reduce Falls in the Elderly with Exercise and Tai Chi

Reduce Falls in the Elderly with Exercise and Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

With regular practice, tai chi improves balance by strengthening muscles and co-ordination; at the same time, it strengthens the mind, thereby improving calmness and confidence in not falling. Thus, both physically and mentally, tai chi is an extremely effective exercise for fall prevention. A great bonus, at the same time, tai chi also improves almost all aspects of health!” – Paul Lam

 

The process of aging affects every aspect of the physical and cognitive domains. Every system in the body deteriorates including motor function with a decline in strength, flexibility, and balance. Impaired balance 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.

 

Falls, with or without injury, also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults, fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness. It is obviously important to discover methods to improve balance and decrease the number of falls in the elderly.

 

Tai Chi training is designed to enhance and regulate the functional activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. It includes balance training and has been shown to improve balance and coordination. Indeed, Tai Chi training has been shown to reduce the frequency of falls in the elderly. It is not known, however, how effective  Tai Chi training is in preventing falls relative to other exercises. The evidence is accumulating. So, it is important to review and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Exercise for preventing falls in older people living in the community.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6360922/), Sherrington and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the relative effectiveness of various exercises, including Tai Chi in improving balance and reducing falls in the elderly. They identified 108 randomized controlled trials including a total of 23,407 participants averaging 77 years of age employing any form of exercise and measuring falls before and after treatment.

 

They report that the published research found that all forms of exercise combined significantly reduced falls by 23% and reduced the number of people experiencing falls by 15% with larger effects when the program was delivered by a health care professional. With respect to specific forms of exercise they found that balance and functional exercises significantly reduced falls by 24% and reduced the number of people experiencing falls by 13% while Tai Chi significantly reduced falls by 19% and reduced the number of people experiencing falls by 20%. There were too few studies with mixed resultsmof other forms of exercise such as walking, dance, strength exercises to evaluate their effectiveness.

 

These findings support the use of exercise to reduce falls in the elderly including the use of Tai Chi. Some advantages of Tai Chi include the facts that it is not strenuous, involves 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. It can also be practiced without professional supervision and in groups making it inexpensive to deliver and fun to engage in. This makes Tai Chi practice an excellent means to reduce falls in elderly individuals.

 

So, reduce falls in the elderly with exercise and Tai Chi.

 

based on current available evidence, suggest that Tai Chi exercise is an effective intervention to prevent the risk of falls among older adults.” – Yu-Ning Hu

 

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

 

Sherrington, C., Fairhall, N. J., Wallbank, G. K., Tiedemann, A., Michaleff, Z. A., Howard, K., Clemson, L., Hopewell, S., & Lamb, S. E. (2019). Exercise for preventing falls in older people living in the community. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 1(1), CD012424. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD012424.pub2

 

Abstract

Background

At least one‐third of community‐dwelling people over 65 years of age fall each year. Exercises that target balance, gait and muscle strength have been found to prevent falls in these people. An up‐to‐date synthesis of the evidence is important given the major long‐term consequences associated with falls and fall‐related injuries

Objectives

To assess the effects (benefits and harms) of exercise interventions for preventing falls in older people living in the community.

Search methods

We searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, three other databases and two trial registers up to 2 May 2018, together with reference checking and contact with study authors to identify additional studies.

Selection criteria

We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating the effects of any form of exercise as a single intervention on falls in people aged 60+ years living in the community. We excluded trials focused on particular conditions, such as stroke.

Data collection and analysis

We used standard methodological procedures expected by Cochrane. Our primary outcome was rate of falls.

Main results

We included 108 RCTs with 23,407 participants living in the community in 25 countries. There were nine cluster‐RCTs. On average, participants were 76 years old and 77% were women. Most trials had unclear or high risk of bias for one or more items. Results from four trials focusing on people who had been recently discharged from hospital and from comparisons of different exercises are not described here.

Exercise (all types) versus control

Eighty‐one trials (19,684 participants) compared exercise (all types) with control intervention (one not thought to reduce falls). Exercise reduces the rate of falls by 23% (rate ratio (RaR) 0.77, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.71 to 0.83; 12,981 participants, 59 studies; high‐certainty evidence). Based on an illustrative risk of 850 falls in 1000 people followed over one year (data based on control group risk data from the 59 studies), this equates to 195 (95% CI 144 to 246) fewer falls in the exercise group. Exercise also reduces the number of people experiencing one or more falls by 15% (risk ratio (RR) 0.85, 95% CI 0.81 to 0.89; 13,518 participants, 63 studies; high‐certainty evidence). Based on an illustrative risk of 480 fallers in 1000 people followed over one year (data based on control group risk data from the 63 studies), this equates to 72 (95% CI 52 to 91) fewer fallers in the exercise group. Subgroup analyses showed no evidence of a difference in effect on both falls outcomes according to whether trials selected participants at increased risk of falling or not.

The findings for other outcomes are less certain, reflecting in part the relatively low number of studies and participants. Exercise may reduce the number of people experiencing one or more fall‐related fractures (RR 0.73, 95% CI 0.56 to 0.95; 4047 participants, 10 studies; low‐certainty evidence) and the number of people experiencing one or more falls requiring medical attention (RR 0.61, 95% CI 0.47 to 0.79; 1019 participants, 5 studies; low‐certainty evidence). The effect of exercise on the number of people who experience one or more falls requiring hospital admission is unclear (RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.51 to 1.18; 1705 participants, 2 studies, very low‐certainty evidence). Exercise may make little important difference to health‐related quality of life: conversion of the pooled result (standardised mean difference (SMD) ‐0.03, 95% CI ‐0.10 to 0.04; 3172 participants, 15 studies; low‐certainty evidence) to the EQ‐5D and SF‐36 scores showed the respective 95% CIs were much smaller than minimally important differences for both scales.

Adverse events were reported to some degree in 27 trials (6019 participants) but were monitored closely in both exercise and control groups in only one trial. Fourteen trials reported no adverse events. Aside from two serious adverse events (one pelvic stress fracture and one inguinal hernia surgery) reported in one trial, the remainder were non‐serious adverse events, primarily of a musculoskeletal nature. There was a median of three events (range 1 to 26) in the exercise groups.

Different exercise types versus control

Different forms of exercise had different impacts on falls (test for subgroup differences, rate of falls: P = 0.004, I² = 71%). Compared with control, balance and functional exercises reduce the rate of falls by 24% (RaR 0.76, 95% CI 0.70 to 0.81; 7920 participants, 39 studies; high‐certainty evidence) and the number of people experiencing one or more falls by 13% (RR 0.87, 95% CI 0.82 to 0.91; 8288 participants, 37 studies; high‐certainty evidence). Multiple types of exercise (most commonly balance and functional exercises plus resistance exercises) probably reduce the rate of falls by 34% (RaR 0.66, 95% CI 0.50 to 0.88; 1374 participants, 11 studies; moderate‐certainty evidence) and the number of people experiencing one or more falls by 22% (RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.64 to 0.96; 1623 participants, 17 studies; moderate‐certainty evidence). Tai Chi may reduce the rate of falls by 19% (RaR 0.81, 95% CI 0.67 to 0.99; 2655 participants, 7 studies; low‐certainty evidence) as well as reducing the number of people who experience falls by 20% (RR 0.80, 95% CI 0.70 to 0.91; 2677 participants, 8 studies; high‐certainty evidence). We are uncertain of the effects of programmes that are primarily resistance training, or dance or walking programmes on the rate of falls and the number of people who experience falls. No trials compared flexibility or endurance exercise versus control.

Authors’ conclusions

Exercise programmes reduce the rate of falls and the number of people experiencing falls in older people living in the community (high‐certainty evidence). The effects of such exercise programmes are uncertain for other non‐falls outcomes. Where reported, adverse events were predominantly non‐serious.

Exercise programmes that reduce falls primarily involve balance and functional exercises, while programmes that probably reduce falls include multiple exercise categories (typically balance and functional exercises plus resistance exercises). Tai Chi may also prevent falls but we are uncertain of the effect of resistance exercise (without balance and functional exercises), dance, or walking on the rate of falls.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6360922/

 

Alter the Brain and Memory Consolidation During Sleep with Meditation

Alter the Brain and Memory Consolidation During Sleep with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

meditation. The deep relaxation technique has been shown to increase sleep time, improve sleep quality, and make it easier to fall (and stay) asleep.” – Sleep Foundation

 

We spend about a third of our lives in sleep, but we know very little about it. It is known that sleep is not a unitary phenomenon. Rather, it involves several different states that can be characterized by differences in physiological activation, neural activity, and subjective experiences. These changes can be recorded from the scalp with an electroencephalogram (EEG).

 

In the waking state the nervous system shows EEG activity that is termed low voltage fast activity. The electrical activity recorded from the scalp is rapidly changing but only with very small size waves. When sleep first occurs, the individual enters into a stage called slow-wave sleep, sometimes called non-REM sleep. The heart rate and blood pressure decline even further and the muscles become very soft and relaxed. In this state the EEG shows a characteristic waveform known as the theta rhythm, which is a large change in voltage recorded that oscillates at a rate of 4 to 8 cycles per second. As the individual goes even deeper into sleep something remarkable happens as the individual enters into rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep). Here the muscles become extremely inhibited and flaccid, but the eyes move rapidly under the closed eyelids as if the individual was looking around. At the same time the heart rate and blood pressure increase and become very variable and sometimes very high.

 

Sleep has also been shown to be involved in memory consolidation. “Sleep is thought to strengthen information learned during the day, to select which experiences are best remembered and which are best forgotten, and to assimilate new knowledge into existing autobiographical networks.” It has been shown that mindfulness training, including meditation practice, affects sleep and tends to improve sleep and reduce insomnia. It has also been shown to affect memory. But there is need to further investigate the effects of meditation practice, particularly long-term meditation practice, on brain activity during sleep and wakefulness and memory consolidation to begin to understand the mechanisms by which meditation practice affects memory, sleep, and wakefulness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Different Patterns of Sleep-Dependent Procedural Memory Consolidation in Vipassana Meditation Practitioners and Non-meditating Controls.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03014/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1232595_69_Psycho_20200204_arts_A), Solomonova and colleagues recruited healthy young adult (aged 18-35 years) practitioners of Vipassana meditation and matched non-meditators for an afternoon nap study. The participants were measured for body awareness. On one day they engaged in a 90-minute nap preceded by either a 10-minute meditation or a 10-minute relaxation period. During the nap their EEG was recorded. The participants reported on their dreams when awoken halfway into and at the end of the nap. Before and after the nap the participants engaged in a 5-minute session measuring balance with a Nintendo game “Balance Bubble.”

 

They found that the meditators had significantly greater body awareness than the non-meditators. In addition, for meditators only, the higher the body awareness the better the performance on the balance task. Hence meditation practice is associated with better awareness of the body which was in turn related to their balance.

 

There were no significant differences between the groups in improvement on the balance task after the nap or in sleep structure as assessed with the EEG during the nap. Interestingly, the greater the lifetime meditation practice, the less time spent in slow-wave (non-REM) sleep. For the meditation group but not the controls, the greater the density of slow-wave (non-REM) sleep spindles during the nap, the greater the improvement in the balance task. On the other hand, for the non-meditators the greater the time spent in REM sleep, the greater the improvement in the balance task.

 

These findings suggest that memory consolidation for a balance task over a nap occurred in concert with different sleep architecture for the meditators and non-meditators. This suggests the meditation practice produce neuroplastic changes in the brain that resulted in different memory consolidation mechanisms during sleep. These are complex changes that suggest different neural processing of information during sleep in meditators.

 

So, alter the brain and memory consolidation during sleep with meditation.

 

Given the many health concerns pertaining to sleep aid medication use in older adults,” he added, “mindfulness meditation appears to be a safe and sensible health promoting practice to improve sleep quality.” – David Black

 

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

 

Solomonova E, Dubé S, Blanchette-Carrière C, Sandra DA, Samson-Richer A, Carr M, Paquette T and Nielsen T (2020) Different Patterns of Sleep-Dependent Procedural Memory Consolidation in Vipassana Meditation Practitioners and Non-meditating Controls. Front. Psychol. 10:3014. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03014

 

Aim: Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, and sleep spindles are all implicated in the consolidation of procedural memories. Relative contributions of sleep stages and sleep spindles were previously shown to depend on individual differences in task processing. However, no studies to our knowledge have focused on individual differences in experience with Vipassana meditation as related to sleep. Vipassana meditation is a form of mental training that enhances proprioceptive and somatic awareness and alters attentional style. The goal of this study was to examine a potential role for Vipassana meditation experience in sleep-dependent procedural memory consolidation.

Methods: Groups of Vipassana meditation practitioners (N = 22) and matched meditation-naïve controls (N = 20) slept for a daytime nap in the laboratory. Before and after the nap they completed a procedural task on the Wii Fit balance platform.

Results: Meditators performed slightly better on the task before the nap, but the two groups improved similarly after sleep. The groups showed different patterns of sleep-dependent procedural memory consolidation: in meditators, task learning was positively correlated with density of slow occipital spindles, while in controls task improvement was positively associated with time in REM sleep. Sleep efficiency and sleep architecture did not differ between groups. Meditation practitioners, however, had a lower density of occipital slow sleep spindles than controls.

Conclusion: Results suggest that neuroplastic changes associated with meditation practice may alter overall sleep microarchitecture and reorganize sleep-dependent patterns of memory consolidation. The lower density of occipital spindles in meditators may mean that meditation practice compensates for some of the memory functions of sleep.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03014/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1232595_69_Psycho_20200204_arts_A

 

Improve Health and Cognitive Ability in the Elderly with Tai Chi

Improve Health and Cognitive Ability in the Elderly with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Tai chi is a gentle exercise that helps seniors improve balance and prevent falls. Studies have found that tai chi also improves leg strength, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, immune system, sleep, happiness, sense of self-worth, and the ability to concentrate and multitask during cognitive tests.” – DailyCaring

 

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. 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

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Tai Chi on Markers of Atherosclerosis, Lower-limb Physical Function, and Cognitive Ability in Adults Aged Over 60: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6427726/), Zhou and colleagues recruited healthy elderly (aged 60-79 years) who were not practicing Tai Chi or other mindful movement practices and randomly assigned them to engage in one of three different Tai Chi practices for 12 weeks. The practices contained either 24, 42, or 56 different movements. They attended 3 times weekly Tai Chi classes. For the first 6 weeks the classes were 60 minutes while for the second 6 weeks the classes were 90 minutes. They were measured at baseline and at 6 and 12-weeks of practice for resting heart rate and as markers of atherosclerosis resting ankle brachial index and ankle pulse wave velocity. They were also measured for cognitive ability and movement tests of chair rise, walking, balance, and up-and-go test.

 

They found that for both males and females all three Tai Chi practices produced significant improvements in health-related outcomes at 6 and 12 weeks including improvements in walking, balance, up-and-go test, and ankle brachial index. Compared to the 24-movement practice, the 42- and 56-movement practices produced significantly better results for walking and balance and the resting ankle brachial index indicator of atherosclerosis. There were no adverse events recorded.

 

These results have to be interpreted with caution as there wasn’t a control condition such as a different exercise and there was no long-term follow-up. Nevertheless, the results suggest that Tai Chi practices is safe and effective treatment to produce significant improvements in the elderly’s movements, balance, and atherosclerosis. The 24-movement practice appears to be inferior to Tai Chi practices containing a greater number of distinct movements. Supporting these findings is the fact that these improvements including improved balance, movement, cardiovascular performance have also been documented in prior research.

 

Tai Chi practice is 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. All of these characteristics make Tai Chi practice an excellent practice to improvement the health of the elderly.

 

So, improve health and cognitive ability in the elderly with Tai Chi

 

Practicing Tai Chi regularly is known to enhance health and fitness. It can also help seniors with a better sense of balance and strength.” – MedicalAlert

 

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

                 

Zhou, S., Zhang, Y., Kong, Z., Loprinzi, P. D., Hu, Y., Ye, J., … Zou, L. (2019). The Effects of Tai Chi on Markers of Atherosclerosis, Lower-limb Physical Function, and Cognitive Ability in Adults Aged Over 60: A Randomized Controlled Trial. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(5), 753. doi:10.3390/ijerph16050753

 

Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of Tai Chi (TC) on arterial stiffness, physical function of lower-limb, and cognitive ability in adults aged over 60. Methods: This study was a prospective and randomized 12-week intervention trial with three repeated measurements (baseline, 6, and 12 weeks). Sixty healthy adults who met the inclusion criteria were randomly allocated into three training conditions (TC-24, TC-42, and TC-56) matched by gender, with 20 participants (10 males, 10 females) in each of the three groups. We measured the following health outcomes, including markers of atherosclerosis, physical function (leg power, and static and dynamic balance) of lower-limb, and cognitive ability. Results: When all three TC groups (p < 0.05) have showed significant improvements on these outcomes but overall cognitive ability at 6 or 12 weeks training period, TC-56 appears to have superior effects on arterial stiffness and static/dynamic balance in the present study. Conclusions: Study results of the present study add to growing body of evidence regarding therapeutic TC for health promotion and disease prevention in aging population. Future studies should further determine whether TC-42 and TC-56 are beneficial for other non-Chinese populations, with rigorous research design and follow-up assessment.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6427726/