Life constantly presents changes and challenges that promote learning, growth and optimal function. Individuals respond and adapt to these trials differently. When people lose their capacity to cope successfully, they can experience negative stress.
Nineteen percent of American adults surveyed responded that they had used at least one mind-body therapy in the last year, according to a survey conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School and published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine (2004; 19 , 43–50). Meditation, imagery and yoga were the most commonly used techniques. Researchers believe that much opportunity exists to increase use of mind-body therapies that have been demonstrated to be effective for particular conditions.s
Over two centuries ago, Benjamin Franklin used detailed grids to measure his progress toward the 13 goals he had set for himself (yes, that’s why the popular organizer is called a Franklin Planner). He believed
this logging process deepened his self-understanding and enhanced his efforts to modify his behavior. As he put it, “I was surprised to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined, but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish.”
Pilates, yoga and tai chi grew in popularity more than any other fitness activities from 2002 to 2003, according to the 2004 SGMA Sports Participation Trends report from the Superstudy® of Sports Participation. In 2003, 9.469 million people participated in Pilates training, representing a 102.7% increase from 2002. In the same year, 13.371 million people participated in yoga or tai chi, representing a 20.4% increase from 2002.
Frail older adults who practiced tai chi reduced their risk of falling,
according to a study conducted at Emory University Medical School
Researchers noted that adults in their 70s, 80s and 90s—some of whom could not walk without assistance—who participated in weekly tai chi for 48 weeks had fewer falls than subjects who participated in wellness education, according to results published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (2003; 51 , 1804–5).
People with higher levels of body awareness may experience more feelings of anxiety and other negative emotions. Results of a small study published in Nature Neuroscience (2004; 7 ,102–3) showed that subjects who were more aware of their own heart rate levels also felt more anxiety than subjects who lacked awareness of their own physical states.
Findings from a short program in mindful meditation note demonstrable effects on brain and immune function from meditation. Results of a small study published in Psychosomatic Medicine (2003; 65, 564–70) showed that participants in an 8-week mindfulness meditation program had significant increases in left-frontal brain activation, a pattern associated with a positive mood state, compared with nonmeditators.
New research shows that brain aging can begin as early as 40 years of age. Research results published in Nature (2004; 4 [24 June], 883–91), a scientific journal, show that damage in brain tissue involved in learning and memory caused by normal stresses of living varies among individuals in the middle-age years.
Do you have pregnant clients? If so, you may want to let them know that body massage by a significant other can reduce stress hormone levels in pregnant women. The reduction in stress increases the likelihood of a successful full-term pregnancy, according to a new study conducted by the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine and Duke University Medical School’s department of pharmacology. (The Johnson & Johnson Pediatric Institute LLC, the National Institute of Mental Health and the March of Dimes supported the study.)
What’s one way to lower the number of stressed-out adults who have hypertension? Help teenagers with high blood pressure.
A study of 156 inner-city black adolescents in Augusta, Georgia, with high-normal blood pressure showed that teens who practiced 15 minutes of transcendental meditation (TM) twice daily steadily lowered their daytime blood pressures over 4 months and that their pressures tended to stay lower, said Vernon A. Barnes, PhD, a physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia and the principal author of the paper.