Improve Hypertension and Hyperlipidemia in Older Adults with Tai Chi

Improve Hypertension and Hyperlipidemia in Older Adults with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. Treatment frequently includes antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely.

 

Obviously, there is a need for alternative to drug treatments for hypertension. Mindfulness practices have been shown to aid in controlling hypertension. Mindful movement practices such Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient Chinese practices involving mindfulness and gentle movements. They are easy to learn, safe, and gentle. So, it may be appropriate for patients with hypertension who lack the ability to engage in strenuous exercises. Indeed, Tai Chi practice has been shown to reduce blood pressure.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Randomized Trial of Tai Chi on Preventing Hypertension and Hyperlipidemia in Middle-Aged and Elderly Patients.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8160700/ ) Wen and colleagues recruited patients with hypertension and hyperlipidemia between the ages of 40-75 years. They were randomly assigned to practice for 6 weeks, 3 time per week, for 60 minutes either simplified Tai Chi (24 form Yang style) or a Wu Style Tai Chi (60 forms) that was designed for hypertension and hyperlipidemia. They also practiced at home for 30 minutes a day. They were measured before and after the interventions for body size, blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood lipids.

 

They found that the patients who practiced Wu Style Tai Chi in comparison to the simplified Tai Chi had significantly greater reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL Cholesterol and greater increases in HDL Cholesterol in comparison to baseline. In addition, a greater percentage of patients who practiced Wu Style Tai Chi discontinued antihypertensive drugs and showed clinically significant reductions in cardiovascular disease.

 

In the present study both forms of Tai Chi produced improvements in hypertension and hyperlipidemia as has been observed in previous research. But the present study demonstrated that Wu Style Tai Chi produces superior results. Wu Style is more complex and also emphasizes reverse abdominal breathing matched to the movements. It is believed that this increases circulation and may be responsible for the greater improvements. Regardless, Tai Chi is a safe and effective treatment for hypertension and hyperlipidemia in older adults.

 

So, improve hypertension and hyperlipidemia in older adults with Tai Chi.

 

tai chi is a promising and safe exercise alternative for patients with coronary heart disease who are unable or unwilling to attend traditional CR, in particular for older people, women, and deconditioned individuals.” – Elena Salmoirago‐Blotcher

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Wen, J., & Su, M. (2021). A Randomized Trial of Tai Chi on Preventing Hypertension and Hyperlipidemia in Middle-Aged and Elderly Patients. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(10), 5480. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18105480

 

Abstract

In our randomized controlled trial, we investigated whether Wu-style Tai Chi (Tai Chi combined with Daoyin) as a potential exercise prescription is more effective than simplified Tai Chi in the prevention and treatment of hypertension and hyperlipidemia in the middle-aged and elderly. We randomly assigned 66 patients with hypertension and hyperlipidemia to one of the two groups: the Wu-style Tai Chi group or the simplified Tai Chi group; the simplified Tai Chi group only exercised simplified Tai Chi three times a week for 6 weeks. The Wu-style Tai Chi group participated in 60 min of Wu-style Tai Chi three times a week for 6 weeks. Serum biochemical tests were conducted at baseline and at the end of the study. Measurements of blood pressure were performed at the same time. Primary outcomes were compared within and between groups at baseline and at 6 weeks. The participants in the Wu-style Tai Chi group performed, at 6 weeks, significantly better than baseline on all of the primary outcomes (p value ≤ 0.05). The results also show significant difference within the simplified Tai Chi group from baseline to 6 weeks in TCHO (mmol/L), SBP (mmHg), and LDL-C (mmol/L) (p value < 0.05). From baseline to 6 weeks, the Wu-style Tai Chi group had significant differences at more test indexes in serum and blood pressure than the simplified Tai Chi group. At 6 weeks, the Wu-style Tai Chi group had a significantly greater mean improvement in the SBP (mmHg) than did the simplified Tai Chi group (mean between-group difference, −5.80 (mmHg) [95% CI, −14.01 to 2.41]; p = 0.007). The results showed that, compared with simplified Tai Chi, Wu-style Tai Chi had a better effect on hypertension in the middle-aged and elderly. At 6 weeks in LDL-C (mmol/L), the Wu-style Tai Chi group had significantly greater improvement between the two groups (means between-group difference, −0.45 (mmol/L) [95% CI, −0.89 to −0.17]; p = 0.03). The results showed that Wu-style Tai Chi protected the cardiovascular system of the middle-aged and elderly in improving LDL-C (mmol/L), and was more significant than simplified Tai Chi. After 6 weeks of exercise, Wu-style Tai Chi could effectively improve hyperlipidemia and hypertension. The total effective rate of cardiovascular disease was 90.00%. There was significant difference in the treatment effect of hypertension and hyperlipidemia between the two groups during 6 weeks (p = 0.039), showing that, in a small population of middle-aged and elderly subjects, Wu style Tai Chi could be useful in managing important CV risk factors, such as hypertension and hyperlipidemia.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8160700/

Mindfulness Improves Physical and Mental Well-Being

Mindfulness Improves Physical and Mental Well-Being

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“scientists have found that practicing mindfulness is associated with changes in the structure and function of the brain as well as changes in our body’s response to stress, suggesting that this practice has important impacts on our physical and emotional health.” –  University of Minnesota

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mentalphysical, and spiritual life. Mindfulness appears to be beneficial both for healthy people and for people suffering from a myriad of mental and physical illnesses. It appears to be beneficial across ages, from children, to adolescents, to the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalitiesrace, and ethnicity. The breadth and depth of benefits is unprecedented. There is no other treatment or practice that has been shown to come anyway near the range of mindfulness’ positive benefits.

 

Research on mindfulness effects on mental and physical health has exploded over the last few decades. So, it makes sense to pause and examine what has been learned. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based interventions: an overall review” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8083197/ )  Zhang and colleagues reviewed and summarized the randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses of the effects of mindfulness-based practices on mental and physical health.

 

They report that the published research studies and meta-analyses found that mindfulness-based practices produced significant improvements in mental health including anxiety, depression, anger, prosocial behavior, loneliness, physiological and psychological indicators of stress, insomnia, eating disorders, addictions, psychoses, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism. They also report that mindfulness-based practices produced significant improvements in physical health including pain, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), aggression, and violence.

 

In addition, mindfulness-based practices produced safe, cost-effective improvements in professional and healthcare settings, in schools, and in the workplace. Further they report that mindfulness-based practices produced significant changes in the structure and activity of the nervous system, improvements in immune functioning and physiological markers of stress.

 

The review of the published research has provided a compelling case for the utilization of mindfulness-based practices for a myriad of psychological and physical problems in humans of all ages with and without disease. The range and depth of effects are unprecedented making a strong case for the routine training in mindfulness for the improvement of their well-being.

 

So, mindfulness improves physical and mental well-being.

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Zhang, D., Lee, E., Mak, E., Ho, C. Y., & Wong, S. (2021). Mindfulness-based interventions: an overall review. British medical bulletin, ldab005. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1093/bmb/ldab005

 

Abstract

Introduction

This is an overall review on mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs).

Sources of data

We identified studies in PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, AMED, Web of Science and Google Scholar using keywords including ‘mindfulness’, ‘meditation’, and ‘review’, ‘meta-analysis’ or their variations.

Areas of agreement

MBIs are effective for improving many biopsychosocial conditions, including depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, addiction, psychosis, pain, hypertension, weight control, cancer-related symptoms and prosocial behaviours. It is found to be beneficial in the healthcare settings, in schools and workplace but further research is warranted to look into its efficacy on different problems. MBIs are relatively safe, but ethical aspects should be considered. Mechanisms are suggested in both empirical and neurophysiological findings. Cost-effectiveness is found in treating some health conditions.

Areas of controversy

Inconclusive or only preliminary evidence on the effects of MBIs on PTSD, ADHD, ASD, eating disorders, loneliness and physical symptoms of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and respiratory conditions. Furthermore, some beneficial effects are not confirmed in subgroup populations. Cost-effectiveness is yet to confirm for many health conditions and populations.

Growing points

Many mindfulness systematic reviews and meta-analyses indicate low quality of included studies, hence high-quality studies with adequate sample size and longer follow-up period are needed.

Areas timely for developing research

More research is needed on online mindfulness trainings and interventions to improve biopsychosocial health during the COVID-19 pandemic; Deeper understanding of the mechanisms of MBIs integrating both empirical and neurophysiological findings; Long-term compliance and effects of MBIs; and development of mindfulness plus (mindfulness+) or personalized mindfulness programs to elevate the effectiveness for different purposes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8083197/

Improve Hypertension with Yoga

Improve Hypertension with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. Treatment frequently includes antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely.

 

Obviously, there is a need for alternative to drug treatments for hypertension. Mindfulness practices have been shown to aid in controlling hypertension. Exercise is also known to help. So, yoga practice, which combines mindfulness practice with exercise would seem to be a good candidate practice for the treatment of hypertension. Indeed, yoga practice appears to lower blood pressure in hypertension.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of a health worker-led 3-month yoga intervention on blood pressure of hypertensive patients: a randomised controlled multicentre trial in the primary care setting.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7981931/ ) Dhungana and colleagues recruited adults with hypertension who didn’t practice yoga and randomly assigned them to a wait-list control condition or to receive 5 2-hour yoga training sessions and 1 health education session followed by 90 days of home practice for 30 minutes per day for 5 days per week. They were measured before and after training for systolic and diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, and body size.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the patients with hypertension who practiced yoga had significant reductions in both systolic (8%) and diastolic (7%) blood pressure. These results are similar to those found in other studies that yoga practice lowers blood pressure in patients with hypertension. The contribution of the present study is to demonstrate that after training, yoga practice at home is a safe and effective treatment for hypertension.

 

So, Improve Hypertension with Yoga.

 

Adults who practice yoga with breathing and relaxation exercises at least three times a week may have lower blood pressure than people who don’t.” – Lisa Rapaport

 

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

 

Dhungana, R. R., Pedisic, Z., Joshi, S., Khanal, M. K., Kalauni, O. P., Shakya, A., Bhurtel, V., Panthi, S., Ramesh Kumar, K. C., Ghimire, B., Pandey, A. R., Bista, B., Khatiwoda, S. R., McLachlan, C. S., Neupane, D., & de Courten, M. (2021). Effects of a health worker-led 3-month yoga intervention on blood pressure of hypertensive patients: a randomised controlled multicentre trial in the primary care setting. BMC public health, 21(1), 550. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-10528-y

 

Abstract

Background

Hypertension control remains a major challenge globally. A recent systematic review suggested that yoga has beneficial effects on reducing blood pressure. However, the role of yoga in hypertension management in primary health care has received little attention, and no studies have evaluated the impact of a yoga program fully delivered by health care staff on hypertension. This study, therefore, assessed the effects of a health worker-led yoga intervention on blood pressure reduction among hypertensives patients in the primary care setting.

Methods

This was a multicentric, two-arm, randomised trial conducted among hypertensive patients in seven Ayurveda Health Centres in Nepal between March 2017 and June 2018. One hundred and twenty-one participants who were on or without medications were randomised to intervention (n = 61) and wait-list control (n = 60) groups using stratified block randomisation. Participants in the intervention arm received an intervention consisting of an initial five-day structured yoga training at the centres and then a further home-based practice of yoga for five days a week for the following 90 days. Both intervention and control groups also participated in a 2-h health education session. The primary outcome of this trial was systolic blood pressure at 90-day follow-up. Data were analysed on an intention-to-treat basis using linear mixed-effects regression models.

Results

We included all 121 study participants (intervention/control = 61/60) in the primary analysis (52.1% males; mean ± SD age = 47.8 ± 10.8 years). The difference in systolic blood pressure between the intervention group and the control group was − 7.66 mmHg (95% CI: − 10.4, − 4.93). For diastolic blood pressure, the difference was − 3.86 mmHg (95% CI: − 6.65, − 1.06). No adverse events were reported by the participants.

Conclusions

A yoga program for hypertensive patients consisting of a five-day training in health centres and 90 days of practice at home is effective for reducing blood pressure. Significant benefits for hypertensive patients could be expected if such programmes would become a part of the standard treatment practice.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7981931/

 

Improve Hypertension with Tai Chi

Improve Hypertension with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“under well-designed conditions, Tai Chi exercise training could decrease blood pressure and results in favorable lipid profile changes and improve subjects’ anxiety status. Therefore, Tai Chi could be used as an alternative modality in treating patients with mild hypertension, with a promising economic effect.” – Jen-Chen Tsai

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. Treatment frequently includes antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely.

 

Obviously, there is a need for alternative to drug treatments for hypertension. Mindfulness practices have been shown to aid in controlling hypertension. Mindful movement practices such Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient Chinese practices involving mindfulness and gentle movements. They may be appropriate for patients with hypertension who lack the ability to engage in strenuous exercises. Indeed, Qigong practice has been shown to reduce blood pressure. There have been a number of studies performed and it is useful to summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Ji Quan as antihypertensive lifestyle therapy: 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/PMC7987647/ )  Wu and colleagues reviewed, summarized, and performed a meta-analysis of the published research studies on the effectiveness of Tai Chi practice for the treatment of hypertension in adults..

 

They found 15 published controlled research studies and report that these studies found that Tai Chi practice alone produced significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with hypertension. These effects were greatest when the baseline blood pressure was highest. The size of the blood pressure reductions would be expected to reduce cardiovascular disease risk by at least 40%.

 

It is important to note that Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient mindfulness practices involving slow prescribed movements. They are gentle and completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, are inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned. In addition, they can also be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. Hence, Tai Chi practice is an almost ideal treatment for hypertension.

 

So, improve hypertension with Tai Chi.

 

Despite its gentle nature, the health benefits of tai chi can be impressive.” – 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

 

Wu, Y., Johnson, B. T., Chen, S., Chen, Y., Livingston, J., & Pescatello, L. S. (2021). Tai Ji Quan as antihypertensive lifestyle therapy: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of sport and health science, 10(2), 211–221. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jshs.2020.03.007

 

Abstract

Background

Professional health organizations are not currently recommending Tai Ji Quan alongside aerobic exercise to treat hypertension. We aimed to examine the efficacy of Tai Ji Quan as antihypertensive lifestyle therapy.

Methods

Tai Ji Quan interventions published in English and Chinese were included when they involved healthy adults, reported pre- and post-intervention blood pressure (BP), and had a non-exercise/non-diet control group. We systematically searched 11 electronic databases for studies published through July 31, 2018, yielding 31 qualifying controlled trials. We (1) evaluated the risk of bias and methodological study quality, (2) performed meta-regression analyses following random-effects assumptions, and (3) generated additive models representing the largest possible clinically relevant BP reductions.

Results

Participants (n = 3223) were middle-aged (56.6 ± 15.1 years of age, mean ± SD) adults with prehypertension (systolic BP (SBP) = 136.9 ± 15.2 mmHg, diastolic BP (DBP) = 83.4 ± 8.7 mmHg). Tai Ji Quan was practiced 4.0 ± 1.4 sessions/week for 54.0 ± 10.6 min/session for 22.3 ± 20.2 weeks. Overall, Tai Ji Quan elicited significant reductions in SBP (–11.3 mmHg, 95%CI: –14.6 to –8.0; d+ = –0.75) and DBP (–4.8 mmHg, 95%CI: –6.4 to –3.1; d+ = –0.53) vs. control (p < 0.001). Controlling for publication bias among samples with hypertension, Tai Ji Quan trials published in English elicited SBP reductions of 10.4 mmHg and DBP reductions of 4.0 mmHg, which was half the magnitude of trials published in Chinese (SBP reductions of 18.6 mmHg and DBP reductions of 8.8 mmHg).

Conclusion

Our results indicate that Tai Ji Quan is a viable antihypertensive lifestyle therapy that produces clinically meaningful BP reductions (i.e., 10.4 mmHg and 4.0 mmHg of SBP and DBP reductions, respectively) among individuals with hypertension. Such magnitude of BP reductions can lower the incidence of cardiovascular disease by up to 40%.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7987647/

 

Improve Hypertension with Mindfulness Training

Improve Hypertension with Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Several practices that help calm the mind can also lower blood pressure. All are types of meditation, which use different methods to reach a state sometimes described as “thoughtful awareness” or “restful alertness.” – Harvard Health

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. Treatment frequently includes antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely.

 

Obviously, there is a need for alternatives to drugs for reducing blood pressure. Mindfulness practices have been shown to aid in controlling hypertension. There has accumulated a body of research on the ability of Mindfulness practices to affect hypertension. So, it makes sense to summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Effective for People with Hypertension? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of 30 Years of Evidence.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8000213/ ) Conversano and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the published research studies of the effectiveness of mindfulness training on hypertension. They identified 6 published studies that employed either Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) (3 studies), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) (2 studies), and mindfulness meditation (1 study).

 

They report that the published research found that mindfulness training improved hypertension with reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. They further report that mindfulness training worked best when the number of patients taking antihypertensive drugs were low, with the lower the percentage of participants on antihypertensive drugs, the greater the effect size of mindfulness training on hypertension.

 

These are impressive results that suggest that mindfulness training is a safe and effective treatment for hypertension. The trainings appear to work best in the absence of drugs to control hypertension. It follows that mindfulness training would reduce the physical effects of hypertension and thereby improve the overall health and longevity of the patients.

 

So, improve hypertension with mindfulness training.

 

The hope is that if we can start mindfulness training early in life, we can promote a trajectory of healthy aging across the rest of people’s lives. That will reduce their chances of getting high blood pressure in the first place.” – Eric Loucks

 

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

 

Conversano C, Orrù G, Pozza A, Miccoli M, Ciacchini R, Marchi L, Gemignani A. Is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Effective for People with Hypertension? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of 30 Years of Evidence. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Mar 11;18(6):2882. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18062882. PMCID: PMC8000213.

 

Abstract

Background: Hypertension is among the most important risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, which are considered high mortality risk medical conditions. To date, several studies have reported positive effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) interventions on physical and psychological well-being in other medical conditions, but no meta-analysis on MBSR programs for hypertension has been conducted. Objectives: The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of MBSR programs for hypertension. Methods: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials examining the effects of MBSR on systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP), anxiety, depression, and perceived stress in people with hypertension or pre-hypertension was conducted. The PubMed/MEDLINE and PsycINFO databases were searched in November 2020 to identify relevant studies. Results: Six studies were included. The comparison of MBSR versus control conditions on diastolic BP was associated with a statistically significant mean effect size favoring MBSR over control conditions (MD = −2.029; 95% confidence interval (CI): −3.676 to −0.383, p = 0.016, k = 6; 22 effect sizes overall), without evidence of heterogeneity (I2 = 0.000%). The comparison of MBSR versus control conditions on systolic BP was associated with a mean effect size which was statistically significant only at a marginal level (MD = −3.894; 95% CI: −7.736–0.053, p = 0.047, k = 6; 22 effect sizes overall), without evidence of high heterogeneity (I2 = 20.772%). The higher the proportion of participants on antihypertensive medications was, the larger the effects of MBSR were on systolic BP (B = −0.750, z = −2.73, p = 0.003). Conclusions: MBSR seems to be a promising intervention, particularly effective on the reduction of diastolic BP. More well-conducted trials are required.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8000213/

 

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/

 

Decrease Blood Pressure with Qigong

Decrease Blood Pressure with Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

 Qigong exercise is a blessing in disguise. Because the physical movements of Qigong are performed while mindfully connecting your focus to your breath, as well as specific visualizations or positive emotions, you heal not only your body but your mind and spirit as well.“ – Bodhi Batista

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. Treatment frequently includes antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely.

 

Obviously, there is a need for alternatives to drugs for reducing blood pressure. Mindfulness practices have been shown to aid in controlling hypertension. Qigong is ancient mindfulness practice involving slow prescribed movements. Since Qigong  is both a mindfulness practice and an exercise, it is particularly acceptable and effective methods to improve cardiovascular health. The research on Qigong and blood pressure has been accumulating. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of qigong on systolic and diastolic blood pressure lowering: a systematic review with meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7789757/ ) Ching and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials of the effectiveness of Qigong practice for reducing blood pressure in adults. They identified 7 published randomized controlled trials.

 

They report that the published studies found that Qigong practice produced significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. These findings suggest that Qigong practice is a safe and effective practice that may help reduce hypertension. Indeed, recent research has found that Qigong practice is effective in improving hypertension.

 

Some advantages of Qigong  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 Qigong practice an excellent treatment to lower blood pressure and treat hypertension.

 

So, decrease blood pressure with qigong.

 

Qi Gong is both an exercise routine and a stress management form of relaxation. Qi is the body’s life force energy. Research shows that a daily practice of Qi Gong can lower blood pressure.” – Lee Holden

 

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

 

Ching, S. M., Mokshashri, N. R., Kannan, M. M., Lee, K. W., Sallahuddin, N. A., Ng, J. X., Wong, J. L., Devaraj, N. K., Hoo, F. K., Loo, Y. S., & Veettil, S. K. (2021). Effects of qigong on systolic and diastolic blood pressure lowering: a systematic review with meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis. BMC complementary medicine and therapies, 21(1), 8. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-020-03172-3

 

Abstract

Background

The benefits of qigong for systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP) reduction have been noted in previously published systematic reviews; however, the data on its effectiveness has been at best scarce. We aimed to update the evidence of qigong on blood pressure reduction after taking into consideration the risks of random error and reliability of data in the cumulative meta-analysis using trial sequential analysis (TSA).

Methods

Included trials were assessed using Cochrane risk of bias instrument. We performed meta-analysis with random-effects model and random errors were evaluated with TSA. We performed the search for the eligible randomized controlled trial (RCT) through Medline, Cinahl, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and also PubMed.

Results

A total of 370 subjects sourced from seven eligible RCTs were entered into the analysis. The pooled results demonstrated the significant reduction with the use of qigong of the systolic blood pressure [weighted mean difference (WMD), − 10.66 mmHg (95% confidence interval (CI) = − 17.69,-3.62, p < 0.001] and diastolic BP [WMD, − 6.76 mmHg, 95% CI = − 12.22, − 1.30, p < 0.001] as compared to the control group.

Conclusions

Significant reductions in BP is seen with the use of qigong as compared with the control group, suggesting that qigong may be used as a complementary therapy in the somewhat complicated management of hypertension.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7789757/

 

Lower Cardiovascular Disease Risk by Improving Emotion Regulation with Mindfulness

Lower Cardiovascular Disease Risk by Improving Emotion Regulation with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“People who meditate regularly reported feeling more balanced and less stressed, and . . . improved the outcomes when they were added to cardiac rehabilitation programmes for patients with CHD.” – Heart Matters

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer. A myriad of treatments has been developed including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. In addition, lifestyle changes have proved to be effective including quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, 60% of cardiovascular disease patients decline engaging in these lifestyle changes, making these patients at high risk for another attack.

 

Contemplative practices have been shown to be safe and effective alternative treatments for cardiovascular disease. Practices such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have been shown to be helpful for heart health and to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. They have also been shown to be effective in maintaining cardiovascular health and the treatment of cardiovascular disease. The means by which mindfulness reduces cardiovascular disease risk have not been explored using the qualitative experiences of the patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and cardiovascular health: Qualitative findings on mechanisms from the mindfulness-based blood pressure reduction (MB-BP) study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7510988/ ) Nardi and colleagues recruited patients with hypertension who had participated in a study of the effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) modified for hypertension, to reduce blood pressure. The participants participated in focus groups or were interviewed individually with semi-structured interviews. The groups and interviews focused on their experiences with the intervention and its effects. Transcripts of the responses were subjected to thematic analysis to identify common themes and ideas.

 

They found that the participants practiced breath awareness and body scans most in their everyday lives. Breath awareness allowed them to pause and relax to better address issues while the body scans made them more aware of their bodily states. These practices produced a greater awareness of the present moment and their responses to emotional situations allowing them to better regulate their emotions in these situations. They learned to apply self-kindness rather than self-criticism and to direct attention to mindfulness when stressful situations came up rather than worrying about them. All of this resulted in the improved ability to deal with their emotions. The participants indicated that they used the emotion regulation abilities to effectively deal with stress, learning to relax in the face of stress. This led to important changes in their health behaviors particularly diet.

 

These qualitative results suggest that the mindfulness program improved the patients’ cardiovascular health. It provided them with tools to employ when emotional situations arose to heighten their awareness of exactly what was transpiring and how they felt in the present moment. This resulted in better regulation of emotions which in turn led to better responses to stress and improved health behaviors.

 

These qualitative results correspond to the results of controlled empirical studies of the effects of mindfulness training on a wide variety of individuals and conditions. These studies found that mindfulness training produced improved emotion regulation, increased self-kindness, improved responses to stress, and improved cardiovascular health.  Hence, mindfulness training provides individuals with skills that improve their lives and well-beeing.

 

So, lower cardiovascular disease risk by improving emotion regulation with mindfulness.

 

there are four things that have scientifically been shown to reduce the risk of a heart attack in patients with mild to moderate coronary artery disease and they include – reduced stress (use meditation to do so), diet, exercise and love.” – Jeena Cho

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Nardi, W. R., Harrison, A., Saadeh, F. B., Webb, J., Wentz, A. E., & Loucks, E. B. (2020). Mindfulness and cardiovascular health: Qualitative findings on mechanisms from the mindfulness-based blood pressure reduction (MB-BP) study. PloS one, 15(9), e0239533. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0239533

 

Abstract

Background

Mindfulness-based programs hold promise for improving cardiovascular health (e.g. physical activity, diet, blood pressure). However, despite theoretical frameworks proposed, no studies have reported qualitative findings on how study participants themselves believe mindfulness-based programs improved their cardiovascular health. With an emphasis on in-depth, open-ended investigation, qualitative methods are well suited to explore the mechanisms underlying health outcomes. The objective of this qualitative study was to explore the mechanisms through which the mindfulness-based program, Mindfulness-Based Blood Pressure Reduction (MB-BP), may influence cardiovascular health.

Methods

This qualitative study was conducted as part of a Stage 1 single arm trial with one-year follow-up. The MB-BP curriculum was adapted from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction to direct participants’ mindfulness skills towards modifiable determinants of blood pressure. Four focus group discussions were conducted (N = 19 participants), and seven additional participants were selected for in-depth interviews. Data analysis was conducted using the standard approach of thematic analysis. Following double-coding of audio-recorded transcripts, four members of the study team engaged in an iterative process of data analysis and interpretation.

Results

Participants identified self-awareness, attention control, and emotion regulation as key mechanisms that led to improvements in cardiovascular health. Within these broader themes, many participants detailed a process beginning with increased self-awareness to sustain attention and regulate emotions. Many also explained that the specific relationship between self-awareness and emotion regulation enabled them to respond more skillfully to stressors. In a secondary sub-theme, participants suggested that higher self-awareness helped them engage in positive health behaviors (e.g. healthier dietary choices).

Conclusion

Qualitative analyses suggest that MB-BP mindfulness practices allowed participants to engage more effectively in self-regulation skills and behaviors lowering cardiovascular disease risk, which supports recent theory. Results are consistent with quantitative mechanistic findings showing emotion regulation, perceived stress, interoceptive awareness, and attention control are influenced by MB-BP.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7510988/

 

Ethnicity Modulates Improvements in Sleep in Prehypertensive Patients with a Smartphone Meditation App

Ethnicity Modulates Improvements in Sleep in Prehypertensive Patients with a Smartphone Meditation App

 

Several practices that help calm the mind can also lower blood pressure. All are types of meditation.” – Harvard Health

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. Treatment frequently includes antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely.

 

Obviously, there is a need for alternative to drug treatments for hypertension. Mindfulness practices have been shown to aid in controlling hypertension. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a trained teacher. This results in costs that many patients 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, Apps for smartphones 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.

 

In today’s Research News article “Ethnicity Differences in Sleep Changes Among Prehypertensive Adults Using a Smartphone Meditation App: Dose-Response Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7576537/ ) Sieverdes and colleagues recruited patients diagnosed with prehypertension. They had the participants use a smartphone app, “Tension Tamer” for 6 months. The app provided focused breath following meditation practice and also measured heart rate and blood pressure. The participants were randomized into 3 dosage groups, 5, 10, or 15 minutes of daily practice. They were measured before and after training and at 1 and 3-months during training for sleep with a self-reports and 7-days of wrist actigraphy which also measured activity levels.

 

They found that the 47% of the participants who were African American had significantly shorter sleep durations, poorer sleep quality, and greater sleep disturbance at baseline both in the self-report and actigraphy measures than non-Hispanic white participants. They also found that the effects of the meditation app on sleep varied according to ethnic group. For the Non-Hispanic White participants, the 5-minute per day dose of “Tension timer” use produced significantly greater improvements in sleep efficiency and quality, lower fragmentation, and longer sleep duration than the 10 or 15-minute doses. For the African American participants, the 5-minute dose produced significantly less sleep fragmentation and duration than the 10 or 15-minute doses. In comparing the ethnic groups, they found that the Non-Hispanic White participants had significantly greater improvements in sleep efficiency, reduced fragmentation, and longer sleep duration than the African American participants.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that smartphone app guided meditation practice improves sleep in patients diagnosed as prehypertensive. But the effects are less positive for African American participants than Non-Hispanic White participants. This is a bit surprising as African American participants appear to have more problematic sleep to start with and hence had greater room for improvement. It is also surprising that the lower amount of meditation practice, 5-minutes per day, was more beneficial that the longer daily meditations. It appears that the 5-minute practice participants tended to use the app more often and to use it more often just prior to going to bed than the other dose participants and this may have led to the differences.

 

Improving sleep is important in promoting relaxation and reducing the likelihood that prehypertension will progress to patent hypertension. So, the use of the app may be helpful in maintaining the health of prehypertensive patients. The ethnic differences, however, suggest that app usage may be more beneficial for white as opposed to black participant. The results also suggest that brief daily practice, 5-minutes, may promote more frequent use that improves effectiveness.

 

So, ethnicity modulates improvements in sleep in prehypertensive patients with a smartphone meditation app.

 

If you struggle with “turning your brain off”, you may find yourself feeling restless and unable to sleep. Fortunately, meditation is one way to quiet your thoughts and fight insomnia. Meditation has been shown to help people who struggle with insomnia and other sleep disturbances.“ – Florida Medical Clinic

 

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

 

Sieverdes, J. C., Treiber, F. A., Kline, C. E., Mueller, M., Brunner-Jackson, B., Sox, L., Cain, M., Swem, M., Diaz, V., & Chandler, J. (2020). Ethnicity Differences in Sleep Changes Among Prehypertensive Adults Using a Smartphone Meditation App: Dose-Response Trial. JMIR formative research, 4(10), e20501. https://doi.org/10.2196/20501

 

Abstract

Background

African Americans (AAs) experience greater sleep quality problems than non-Hispanic Whites (NHWs). Meditation may aid in addressing this disparity, although the dosage levels needed to achieve such benefits have not been adequately studied. Smartphone apps present a novel modality for delivering, monitoring, and measuring adherence to meditation protocols.

Objective

This 6-month dose-response feasibility trial investigated the effects of a breathing awareness meditation (BAM) app, Tension Tamer, on the secondary outcomes of self-reported and actigraphy measures of sleep quality and the modulating effects of ethnicity of AAs and NHWs.

Methods

A total of 64 prehypertensive adults (systolic blood pressure <139 mm Hg; 31 AAs and 33 NHWs) were randomized into 3 different Tension Tamer dosage conditions (5,10, or 15 min twice daily). Sleep quality was assessed at baseline and at 1, 3, and 6 months using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and 1-week bouts of continuous wrist actigraphy monitoring. The study was conducted between August 2014 and October 2016 (IRB #Pro00020894).

Results

At baseline, PSQI and actigraphy data indicated that AAs had shorter sleep duration, greater sleep disturbance, poorer efficiency, and worse quality of sleep (range P=.03 to P<.001). Longitudinal generalized linear mixed modeling revealed a dose effect modulated by ethnicity (P=.01). Multimethod assessment showed a consistent pattern of NHWs exhibiting the most favorable responses to the 5-min dose; they reported greater improvements in sleep efficiency and quality as well as the PSQI global value than with the 10-min and 15-min doses (range P=.04 to P<.001). Actigraphy findings revealed a consistent, but not statistically significant, pattern in the 5-min group, showing lower fragmentation, longer sleep duration, and higher efficiency than the other 2 dosage conditions. Among AAs, actigraphy indicated lower sleep fragmentation with the 5-min dose compared with the 10-min and 15-min doses (P=.03 and P<.001, respectively). The 10-min dose showed longer sleep duration than the 5-min and 15-min doses (P=.02 and P<.001, respectively). The 5-min dose also exhibited significantly longer average sleep than the 15-min dose (P=.03).

Conclusions

These findings indicate the need for further study of the potential modulating influence of ethnicity on the impact of BAM on sleep indices and user-centered exploration to ascertain the potential merits of refining the Tension Tamer app with attention to cultural tailoring among AAs and NHWs with pre-existing sleep complaints.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7576537/

 

Change Behavior for the Better with Mindfulness

Change Behavior for the Better with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness practice supports and facilitates behavior change through training attention, emotion, and self-awareness.” – Yi-Yuan Tang

 

We tend to think that illness is produced by physical causes, disease, injury, viruses, bacteria, etc. But many health problems are behavioral problems or have their origins in maladaptive behavior. This is evident in car accident injuries that are frequently due to behaviors, such as texting while driving, driving too fast or aggressively, or driving drunk. Other problematic behaviors are cigarette smoking, alcoholism, drug use, or unprotected sex.

 

Problems can also be produced by lack of appropriate behavior such as sedentary lifestyle, not eating a healthy diet, not getting sufficient sleep or rest, or failing to take medications according to the physician’s orders. Additionally, behavioral issues can be subtle contributors to disease such as denying a problem and failing to see a physician timely or not washing hands. In fact, many modern health issues, costing the individual or society billions of dollars each year, and reducing longevity, are largely preventable.

 

Hence, promoting healthy behaviors and eliminating unhealthy ones has the potential to markedly improve health. Mindfulness training has been shown to promote health and improve illness. It is well established that mindfulness can improve healthy behaviors. The research has been accumulating. So, it is reasonable to stop and summarize what has been learned. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and Behavior Change.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7647439/ )  Schuman-Olivier and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the ability of mindfulness training to promote healthy behaviors.

 

They report that the published studies found that mindfulness training reduces cravings and produces improvements in alcohol and substance abuse disorders, binge eating disorder, obesity, improves smoking cessation, reduces emotional eating and eating when not hungry and produces weight reduction. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve self-management of chronic diseases, including hypertension, COPD, and diabetes and results in improvements in quality of life and reductions in anxiety and depression. Mindfulness training also reduces impulsive behavior, risky sexual behavior, aggression, and violent behaviors. It also reduces self-injury, suicidal thinking, and suicidal behavior.

 

The authors go on to produce and discuss a model of how mindfulness training may be improving troubling behaviors. They speculate that mindfulness training produces a general improvement in self-regulation which results in improved control of behavior. This self-regulation is produced by improvements in attention and cognitive control, emotion regulation, and self-related processes, as well as motivation and learning ability. Regardless, it is clear that mindfulness training improves behaviors that can lead to or exacerbate illness. It’s actually amazing that such simple practices can have such profound and widespread effects in promoting health and well-being and treating diseases.

 

So, change behavior for the better with mindfulness.

 

On your path to create change invite compassion and embrace and accept where you are. Only from a place of compassion will your efforts move into fruition. What is the next compassionate step you can make towards this change today?” – Carley Hauck

 

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

 

Schuman-Olivier, Z., Trombka, M., Lovas, D. A., Brewer, J. A., Vago, D. R., Gawande, R., Dunne, J. P., Lazar, S. W., Loucks, E. B., & Fulwiler, C. (2020). Mindfulness and Behavior Change. Harvard review of psychiatry, 28(6), 371–394. https://doi.org/10.1097/HRP.0000000000000277

 

Abstract

Initiating and maintaining behavior change is key to the prevention and treatment of most preventable chronic medical and psychiatric illnesses. The cultivation of mindfulness, involving acceptance and nonjudgment of present-moment experience, often results in transformative health behavior change. Neural systems involved in motivation and learning have an important role to play. A theoretical model of mindfulness that integrates these mechanisms with the cognitive, emotional, and self-related processes commonly described, while applying an integrated model to health behavior change, is needed. This integrative review (1) defines mindfulness and describes the mindfulness-based intervention movement, (2) synthesizes the neuroscience of mindfulness and integrates motivation and learning mechanisms within a mindful self-regulation model for understanding the complex effects of mindfulness on behavior change, and (3) synthesizes current clinical research evaluating the effects of mindfulness-based interventions targeting health behaviors relevant to psychiatric care. The review provides insight into the limitations of current research and proposes potential mechanisms to be tested in future research and targeted in clinical practice to enhance the impact of mindfulness on behavior change.

CONCLUSION

A growing evidence base supports the benefits of mindfulness for behavior change. A mindful self-regulation model based on an integration of neuroscientific findings describes the complex and synergistic effects of attention/cognitive control, emotion regulation, and self-related processes, as well as motivation and learning mechanisms that may provide a unique pathway toward sustainable behavior change. While evidence supports the impact of mindfulness on behavior change for key health behaviors related to psychiatric practice, more high-quality research is needed, especially with objective measures, larger samples, replication studies, active controls, and formal monitoring of adverse events.474 The field will also benefit from additional research on the impact of integrating compassion practices and from a focus on trauma-sensitive adaptations for diverse populations.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7647439/