Midlife Women Use CAM and Prayer

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Apr 22, 2010

Mind-Body-Spirit News

American women in midlife are the primary users of complementary and alternative medicine [CAM], according to a study published in the Journal of Women’s Health (2010; 19 [1], 23–30). Midlife women are between 45 and 57 years old. Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles; Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois; and the University of California, Davis, analyzed data from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey, a cross-sectional household survey that is representative of nonmilitary American adults.

Fifty-four percent of midlife women reported using prayer for health reasons. Forty-six percent reported using any type of CAM as part of their overall health management. The top five specific CAM therapies for women in this group were the following:

1. herbs and natural products

2. relaxation techniques

3. chiropractic care

4. yoga, tai chi or qigong

5. massage

Study authors believe that these trends will continue. Stress can adversely affect depression and anxiety disorders, heart disease, autoimmune disorders and other chronic medical conditions. The impact of stress on health seems to differ between men and women. In seeking to understand why, scientists have determined that women and men respond differently to stress, according to a small study published in the The Journal of Neuroscience (2010; 30 [2], 431–38).

Researchers from Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Suffolk University in Boston studied 12 healthy, premenopausal Caucasian women along with a similar group of healthy men. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the scientists monitored the brain activity of subjects as they viewed stress-triggering images. The women were scanned twice—once at the beginning of their menstrual cycle and once at ovulation.

At the beginning of a woman’s cycle, her response to stress was equivalent to a man’s response. In contrast, at ovulation, the female reaction to stress was much lower than the male’s. “We found that women have been endowed with a natural hormonal capacity to regulate the stress response in the brain that differs from men,” said lead study author Jill Goldstein, PhD, director of research for the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of psychiatry and medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Therefore, understanding sex differences in stress regulation in the brain can provide clues to understanding the nature of [chronic diseases affected by stress]. Mapping out sex-specific physiology in the brain will also provide the basis for the development of sex-specific treatments for these diseases.”

IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 7, Issue 5

© 2010 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA’s mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in...


Trending Articles

How to Teach HIIT to Everyone

High-intensity interval training has been riding a wave of popularity, and it seems everyone wants to give it a try. However, intense interval training is nothing new. Group fitness instructors have b...

Cut Risk of Alzheimer’s with MIND Diet

Conservative adherence to a new diet, appropriately known by the acronym MIND, could significantly lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a paper published o...

Yes, You CAN Develop Better Eating Habits

Analogous to laying out your exercise gear so it’s the first visual reminder you have of your commitment to exercise each day, imagine...

Mindful Walking

Walking can be more than just moving physically from one location to another. It can be a metaphor for your larger life journey. Things you&...

Smooth Move: Creative Additions to Consider for Smoothies

When looking for a quick breakfast or post-workout nourishment, almost nothing beats a smoothie. Whirl in the right ingredients and the blen...

Nuts and Peanuts Reduce Cardiovascular Risk and Prolong Lifespan

While there have been numerous studies in recent years touting the health benefits of nuts and peanuts, new research published online March ...

20 IDEA World-Renowned Presenters Share Advice on Success and Happiness

We asked some of this year’s most influential and motivating IDEA World Fitness Convention™ presenters to share the single piece of advice they would give another fitness/health pro to hel...

7 Ways to Help a Client Boost Adherence

Once a client has decided to make nutritional changes to support weight loss, you can play a key role in developing an action plan that is m...

Low Intensity vs. High Intensity: Which Is Best for Obese Adults?

The debate continues regarding the most effective exercise measures for reducing abdominal obesity and improving glucose measures.

Recipe for Health: Picadillo-Stuffed Peppers

If you don’t believe that authentic Mexican cookery is “whole” and healthy, you need to take a deep dive into Mexico: The Cookbook (Phaidon 2014), the first truly comprehensive bible...

Show More