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Exercise and Meditation: Powerful Mood Regulators

true-happiness-innerpeace-1-1441466There is a growing body of literature that discusses the benefits of exercise and meditation. There are physical and psychological benefits of each of the techniques. In a recent study published in Translational Psychiatry, these two interventions were combined into a structured intervention for individuals with major depressive disorder.   After only 8 weeks, people with major depressive disorder had a reduction in depressive symptoms. There were also psychological improvements, including increases in synchronized neural activity. The authors suggest that exercise and meditation work together to increase the production of neurons and the sustaining of life of these neurons.

Why is this important for patients and families dealing with cancer? This study once again suggests that there are positive outcomes from activities that individuals can do for themselves to help improve mood and well-being. It has long been recognized that the impact of cancer can have negative effects on mood in patients, caregivers and family members. Meditation and exercise are activities that are self-initiated, thus under the control of the individual and they do not have major side effects and in fact may counter some of the more distressing consequences of cancer and its treatments.

There are other benefits to exercise that include maintaining muscle mass and helping with fatigue. Meditation can help modulate and mitigate anxiety as well. There is no cost to these activities and they tend to be helpful in managing stress – another consequence of cancer and its treatments. Finally, they are empowering tools that allow patients and families to regain some sense of their own personal self-determination at a time when there are many medical interventions that often feel like they are being imposed.

Optimizing wellness throughout the continuum of cancer care is an important strategy for patients and their family members. Here at the Simms/Mann – UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology, we offer many tools to help facilitate well-being. Some of the programs that are available include:

  • Mindfulness Meditation: Facilitating the mind/body connection by cultivating present moment awareness without judgment. It has been proven to enhance health and well-being with people experiencing stress, pain, anxiety, depression and/or illness. Each session includes guided mindfulness meditation experiences, sharing and education.
  • Wellness Assessment: Educational sessions conducted by Simms/Mann Center’s Integrative Oncology Specialist Carolyn Katzin, MS, CNS, MNT, who has an extensive background in nutrition, integrative medicine, preventative health and complementary care. To schedule an appointment, email simmsmanncenter@mednet.ucla.edu or call (310) 794-6644 for more information.
  • Xiaojun Sun Qi Gong: Qi Gong is an ancient Chinese art for restoring health and wellness.. Our Qi Gong classes are held weekly and led by a Chinese grand master to promote healing, health and fitness. Patients should ask their physician if it is okay to do these movements outdoors.
  • Acupressure: Acupressure may be beneficial for many of the side effects of cancer. Among its many benefits, Acupressure can help manage digestive discomfort, relieve pain, improve fatigue and strengthen the immune system. Most importantly, it can help calm your spirit. By simply placing your hands or feet on specific spots on your own body, you will learn helpful acupressure treatments for yourself and your loved ones. It is based on Ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine.
  • Guided Imagery Meditation: Using techniques such as guided imagery, music, color, and movement, this group is designed to optimize emotional, physical and spiritual well-being through meditation. The facilitator holds a Ph.D. in Holistic Health Sciences and is committed to serving individuals facing health challenges.

For details on upcoming workshops and support group meetings, click here to view the Simms/Mann UCLA Center online calendar: http://bit.ly/1P8uDck

To read more on the study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, go to: http://www.nature.com/tp/journal/v6/n2/full/tp2015225a.html

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