Qigong is another mind-body practice that may help people to manage stress, according to a research review of seven randomized, controlled trials available in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2014; doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-14-8). Researchers from the University of Hong Kong conducted the review to evaluate qigong’s ability to reduce stress and anxiety among healthy adults.
As fitness pros, we know that a great workout can be just what a person needs to relieve stress. Unfortunately, the 2013 Stress in America™ survey showed that in the month leading up to the study, as many as 39% of Americans skipped exercise or physical activity when they were feeling stressed. The good news is that 53% of adults who do exercise say they feel good about themselves after exercising, 35% say it puts them in a good mood, and 32% say they feel less stressed.
Mind-body teaching professionals should consider reaching out to more teens, since mindful practices often effectively reduce stress. In 2013, the Stress in AmericaTM survey included teens for the first time (n = 1,018) and found that stress among this age group is rising, with negative consequences for both schoolwork and home life. American teens—from as young as 13 years old— reported unhealthy levels of stress, lack of certainty regarding stress management techniques, and rising levels of stress symptoms that adversely impact health.
Mind-body professionals and other fitness pros may want to offer beneficial stress reduction services to clients—especially those who are most driven to succeed. Among both men and women, people with a type A personality—characteristic of highly competitive and achievement-oriented individuals—may have a higher risk of stroke than their more relaxed and easy-going peers, according to a study in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry (2012; doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2012-302420).
Taking a moment to regain perspective before reacting to a stressful event may not only make you feel better at the time—it may also contribute to better health over a lifetime. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, studied the relationship between people’s reactions to stressful events and their overall health 10 years later.
Mind-body fitness pros who are trained in relaxation techniques may want to teach clients these skills as part of a comprehensive wellness strategy. Stress impacts both physical and mental well-being. Excess stress can be a causal factor in certain health issues, or it can worsen conditions that are already present. Research findings support using relaxation techniques as part of an overall treatment for stress-related disorders.
Think of a recent time you felt stressed. Maybe it was during an argument with your spouse, or a meltdown with your kids. Maybe you were stuck in traffic and late for an important meeting. Or maybe you were lying in bed, worrying about work. Whatever the cause of your stress, your body and brain were almost certainly experiencing the same thing: boiling blood pressure, a churning stomach, tight muscles and a racing mind.
Massage therapy after open-heart surgery can improve patients’ mood and may reduce medication use to curb stress and anxiety. Reducing stress is an important consideration in preventing exacerbation of a heart condition after surgery.