Harness tai chi to help combat cancer-related insomnia

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The Harvard School of Medicine talks about tai chi as “medication in motion”, and it’s for a very good reason. Mounting evidence is showing that this ancient Chinese mind-body practice has great value in treating and even potentially preventing many health problems.

Better yet, all you need to start practising tai chi is your body (and a little bit of self-discipline and willpower)… no weights, no equipment and no expensive gym fees.

A better night’s sleep

The Chinese started the practice of tai chi as a form of self-defence. Since then, it has evolved into a graceful exercise that combines gentle, fluid movements with deep breathing and mindful meditation. Apart from improving balance control, fitness, and flexibility, it also has been shown to help alleviate pain, boost cognitive function, and lower the risk of stroke and heart disease.

But that’s not all.

Recently, a new study found that the practice of tai chi can help breast cancer patients combat insomnia naturally.

It’s a well-known fact that women struggle with insomnia more often than men. And the reasons for this range from hormonal problems to depression. But one group of women in particular struggle to get a good night’s rest: those who are battling breast cancer.

Insomnia is a common side effect of breast cancer treatment and it is estimated that nearly 30 per cent of those surviving the disease have persistent trouble sleeping.

For this latest study, researchers randomly divided 90 breast cancer survivors who had struggled with insomnia three or more times per week into two groups: Half participated in weekly tai chi classes, while the other half received weekly cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) sessions over a three-month period.

The participants were evaluated for one year after the treatments wrapped up. The results showed that tai chi was just as effective as CBT in reducing insomnia.

In both groups, nearly half of the participants still enjoyed better sleeping patterns one year after the study concluded, irrespective of the fact that they practiced tai chi or received CBT.

This trial also did not include any sleeping aids, which means that the results are pretty impressive.

It only goes to show that tai chi not only gets insomnia under control, but also that its effects are long-lasting.

As an added benefit, the women who practiced tai chi also felt less depressed… and had more energy.



Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.

Sources:

Tai Chi Can Help Breast Cancer Survivors Sleep, newsmax.com/Health/Health-News/tai-chi-breast-cancer/2017/05/15/id/790136/

Tai Chi Chih Compared With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for the Treatment of Insomnia in Survivors of Breast Cancer: A Randomized, Partially Blinded, Noninferiority Trial, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28489508

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