Posts Tagged ‘yoga’

How to Reduce Stress and Work Better

Want to work better and harder?

Try Tai Chi, meditation, or yoga or other stress-reduction techniques.

That’s what Mayo Clinic researchers suggest after they examined the relationship between stress levels and quality of life at a work site wellness center.

The researchers, led by Matthew M. Clark, a clinical psychologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, conducted a survey of more than 13,000 employees joining a wellness center, asking them about stress, health behaviors, and quality of life.

A total of 2,147 of these employees reported having high stress levels, according to a study in the September/October issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Those under high stress had statistically significant lower quality of life, more fatigue, and poorer health compared with employees with low stress levels.

They were also more likely to have high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and to be overweight.

The study showed the biggest differences between stressed and non-stressed respondents were in fatigue levels after a regular night’s sleep and in current quality of life.

The researchers concluded that tailored stress-reduction programs would be beneficial for these employees.

Mindfulness exercises, which include Tai Chi, meditation, and yoga, can increase positivity, said Margaret Moore, MBA, founder of Wellcoaches Corporation, at a Harvard-based academic conference on coaching that she co-directed last year.

“Positive emotions matter,” said Moore.

“They lead to flow experiences.”

Positivity makes you thrive and uncover your strengths and talents, she said.

Corporate wellness programs typically focus on physical fitness and weight loss initially, but personal wellness coaches also address other domains of wellness, including stress management, work/life balance, spirituality, and resilience.

Your boss may ask about your productivity and how you are adding to the bottom line.

A return on investment of wellness is tougher to calculate.

But reducing stress may help boost your health and resiliency, and therefore make you a better worker.

Tai Chi Added to Exercise Guidelines

Practice Tai Chi 2 or 3 days a week and engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise and you’ll be getting as much exercise as you need.

That’s the new recommendation from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) on how much exercise is actually enough for an adult.

For the first time, the ACSM has added in neuromotor exercises, sometimes called functional fitness, to its guidelines.

The guidelines state:

“Multifaceted physical activities such as tai ji (tai chi), qigong, and yoga involve varying combinations of neuromotor exercise, resistance exercise, and flexibility exercise.

Neuromotor exercise training is beneficial as part of a comprehensive exercise program for older persons, especially to improve balance, agility, muscle strength, and reduce the risk of falls.

They provide proprioceptive exercise training and multifaceted activities to improve physical function and prevent falls in older adults.”

Based on the results of clinical studies, the new guidelines suggest 20-30 minutes per day of neuromotor training for 2 to 3 days per week for all adults.

In addition to outlining basic recommendations and their scientific reasoning, the ACSM position stand also clarifies these new points:

* Pedometers, step-counting devices used to measure physical activity, are not an accurate measure of exercise quality and should not be used as the sole measure of physical activity.

Interpretation: Step counting is fine, but adding up your total minutes of aerobic activity is better.

* Though exercise protects against heart disease, it is still possible for active adults to develop heart problems.

Interpretation: Everyone should know the warning signs of heart disease, and if you recognize them, see your doctor.

* Sedentary behavior – sitting for long periods of time – is distinct from physical activity and has been shown to be a health risk in itself.

Interpretation: Don’t be a couch potato, which would be hard to do if you follow the full exercise recommendations.

The full recommendations include:

— 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (5 days per week) or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (3 days per week)

— Resistance exercise to train each major muscle group 2 or 3 days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment

— Flexibility exercises at least 2 or 3 days each week to improve range of motion.

— Tai Chi, qigong, or yoga for 2 or 3 days each week for functional fitness.

Medical Qigong and Yoga Improve Cancer Patients’ Quality of Life

I just returned from the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago, where 30,000 doctors around the world gathered to discuss new cancer research.

I found 2 new randomized studies showing the effects of medical qigong and yoga on the quality of life of cancer patients.

It’s well known that cancer patients often experience diminished cognitive function and quality of life due to side effects of their treatment and disease symptoms.

Australian researchers led a randomized study to evaluate the effects of medical qigong, which is a combination of gentle exercise and meditation, similar to Tai Chi warm-up exercises, on cognitive function and quality of life in cancer patients.

One group of 37 cancer patients participated in qigong for 10 weeks while another group of 40 cancer patients received usual care (the control group).

The qigong group reported they felt their cognitive function and abilities and their quality of life had improved, compared to reports from the controls.

The second study examined the effects of yoga on buffering changes in quality of life in women with breast cancer undergoing radiation therapy.

The breast cancer patients were randomized to either do yoga (53 women) or stretching (56 women) 3 times a week for 6 weeks during radiation therapy, or to a waitlist (54 women).

After the radiation therapy ended, both the yoga and stretching groups said they felt less fatigue, while the waitlist group said they were more tired.

Six months after radiation therapy, the stretching group said they felt improvements in fatigue and physical functioning.

Those who did yoga said they felt less fatigue, that their quality of life was better, and they definitely felt a benefit from the yoga practice during therapy.

The research team led by those at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, said “this is the first yoga study to include an active control group, suggesting that the benefits of yoga are due to more than simple stretching, social support, or other indirect effects.”

Certainly not a cure for cancer, qigong and yoga both appear to improve the quality of life of people as they go through cancer treatments, and even better, afterward as well.