Heart disease patients improve their odds. With growing research supporting the long-term health benefits of meditation, doctors may soon be prescribing the practice as a means of stress reduction for patients with heart disease.
Does Pilates—with its emphasis on precision, concentration and memorization of movement patterns—enhance brain function as well as physical function? Scientists from Yanshan University in Qinhuangdao, China, and Beijing Normal University in Beijing wanted to find out.
While many continue to hope for a “magic pill” to prolong youth and sustain health indefinitely, encouraging research demonstrates the power of a back- to-basics, integrative approach—a plant-based diet, exercise, stress management and social support.
Think about knocking on wood or throwing salt over your shoulder. Rituals such as these, involving movements that “push away” from the body, may make us feel better because we have built up an association between pushing actions and avoiding harm or danger, according to psychologists at the University of Chicago.
Mindful eating practices may help clients with a variety of health conditions to improve their nutrition habits. For people with type 2 diabetes, training in mindful eating was as effective in managing weight and blood sugar levels as conventional diabetes self-management education, reported a pilot study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2012; 112 , 1835–42; doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2012.07.036).
Have you ever thought about adding meditation to your wellness practice? The new year is the perfect time to start! People are meditating to promote over- all wellness and also to cope with anxiety, pain, depression, stress, insomnia and physical or emotional symptoms associated with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and HIV/AIDS (NCCAM 2010).
Shirley Archer, JD, MA, IDEA’s mind- body-spirit spokesperson and an award- winning author, shares some insights on this popular mind-body practice.
Changes in the Brain
Good news to share with clients who worry that if they don’t practice yoga daily, they won’t get results: Attending yoga class just once a week can provide positive, measurable help for people with low-back pain.
A study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2013; doi: 10.1155/2013/658030) reported that weekly yoga classes were as effective as twice-weekly classes for relieving low-back pain in low-income minority participants.
Most of us know that helping others has its rewards, but now scientists have been able to measure the cellular effect of altruism, and results confirm that contributing to others may do more for your health than simply satisfying your own needs. The study appeared in PNAS (2013; 110 , 13684–89).
Qigong, a mind-body exercise from traditional Chinese medicine, can help people with chronic fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome to have more energy and to improve mental functioning, suggests a study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine (2012; 44 , 160–70; doi: 10.1007/s12160-012-9381-6). In addition, with qigong practice came an associated increase in telomerase activity, which may shed light on the mechanism underlying the benefits of this type of exercise. Increased telomerase activity has been linked to a reduction in inflammation.