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Mind-Body Program Lowers Stress in Just 5 Days

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Researchers from China have documented genuine physiologic benefits from a program of meditation found to lower stress. Undergraduates at the University of Oregon, taking part in research to study the effects of integrative body-mind training (IBMT), were able to lower stress levels and improve attention in just five days. The mind-body program is adapted from traditional Chinese mind-body training.

Visiting University of Oregon professor Yi-Yuan Tang says IMBT was found to produce real physiologic changes that indicate lower stress levels, including altered blood flow and brain activity, breathing, and skin conductance. The mind-body training produces "a state of ah, much like in the morning opening your eyes, looking outside the grass and sunshine, you feel relaxed, calm and refreshed without any stress”, explains Tang.

A study performed in 2007 by Dr. Tang and psychologist Michael Posner showed that students who engaged in integrative mind-body training before taking a math test had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, less anxiety and fatigue, and less anger compared to a control group.

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According to Posner,"We were able to show that the training improved the connection between a central nervous system structure, the anterior cingulate, and the parasympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system to help put a person into a more bodily state. The results seem to show integration -- a connectivity of brain and body”, result in lower levels of stress.

Improved blood show to the anterior cingulate of the brain, was found using Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). The anterior cingulate is associated with memory, mood and self-regulation. The results are indicative of reduced stress.

"Life is full of stress, and people need to learn methods to manage stress and improve their performance," says Dr.Tang. Integrative body-mind training encourages mind-body awareness to control stress with the help of a coach to assist with controlled breathing and relaxation. “Thought control is achieved gradually through posture, relaxation, body-mind harmony and balanced breathing. A good coach is critical”, Tang said.

Mind body programs that lower stress in a fast-paced society could improve alertness, and increase productivity among large groups, improving overall health and wellness. The current study shows that an integrative approach of mind-body training can lower stress in just five days, when properly implemented.

University of Oregon