Traditional mind-body practices such as yoga, tai chi and qigong may offer postmenopausal women safe and cost-effective ways to reduce heart disease risk factors related to metabolic syndrome, according to a research review published in Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society (2008; 15 , 1005–13). Postmenopausal women have a higher risk of heart disease because menopause is associated with increases in blood pressure, body weight, insulin resistance, cholesterol levels, inflammation, sympathetic nervous system activity and other related factors.
University of Virginia Institute on Aging researchers in Charlottesville conducted a research review to discover whether mind-body activities reduced heart disease risk factors related to metabolic syndrome in older women. Numerous studies substantiated the beneficial effects of these practices on such risk factors for older adults, including women. In addition to providing physical benefits, the mind-body activities offer social support (when practiced in a group setting), reduce stress and improve psychological well-being.
The study authors recommended that more rigorous studies with large sample sizes, control groups and randomization be conducted to confirm these findings and to focus specifically on postmenopausal women and their long-term cardiovascular health.