Demonstrating the power of the mind-body connection, familiar music can lower stress and reduce sedative use among intensive-care-unit patients requiring ventilators, says a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2013; doi:10.1001/jama.2013.5670).
For older adults, volunteering may be an effective activity that not only helps their communities but also promotes personal health. Carnegie Mellon University researchers in Pittsburgh found that older adults who volunteer at least 200 hours per year in any type of activity decrease their risk of hypertension by as much as 40%.
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.
Like people who regularly engage in moderate-intensity exercise, men who practice tai chi consistently for approximately 5-6 hours per week enjoy a reduced risk of earlier death, says a report in the American Journal of Epidemiology (2013; doi: 10.1093/aje/kwt050).
Focusing the mind on the body is the starting point for all mindful practices. Many professionals engaged in mind-body training have observed the mental, and even spiritual, changes that emerge from prolonged practice of focusing on physical sensations.
New research involving the Pilates centering technique will be of particular interest to Pilates pros and other instructors who emphasize engaging core muscles while doing exercises that challenge arm and/or leg movements.
There is new evidence that heart health is important to brain health. People with both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease are at increased risk of cognitive decline, according to a study of 516 participants by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center researchers in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
“Pilates has changed,” says Nora St. John, MS, education program director for Balanced Body®.
Today, she explains, many Pilates teachers are well educated in biomechanics. “An understanding of both anatomy and the mind-body connection makes you a better teacher and certainly a better problem solver.
“In the best situation, Pilates is taught with the idea of, ‘Who is the client in front of me? What are his or her goals? How can I use this environment to help the client achieve those goals?’ I think this is a good contemporary view of Pilates.”
Many yoga teachers consider savasana—also known as corpse pose or relaxation pose—both the easiest and hardest of all postures. Why? On the one hand, the point of the pose is to relax deeply and fully in a supine position with arms and legs gently rolled out to the sides.
In the first study to tease out the effects of different components of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, researchers have identified yoga and sitting meditation as particularly beneficial practices for promoting health among older adults.