Hard Facts About Soft Approaches to Health Problems

by DavalosMcCormack on April 2, 2008

More and more Americans have diabetes or are at risk of diabetes because they are overweight or even obese. Now a new study says Tai Chi may help them bring their disease under control.

The study, in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, followed a group of people with type 2 diabetes who were taking part in a 12 week Tai Chi program. Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese martial art that blends rhythmic breathing with gentle movements.

At the end of the 12 weeks, blood sugar levels dropped significantly in the exercise group, compared to a similar group of patients not doing Tai Chi. In addition the Tai Chi group saw their immune systems boosted on a number of different measures.

Previous studies have shown that Tai Chi is also useful for boosting heart function, improving breathing as well as improving flexibility and relieving stress. For people who are overweight and find strenuous exercise uncomfortable, this seems like a wonderful alternative.

Softer is Better for Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is one of the most common problems in America. In fact at some point in our lives most of us are probably going to experience it. Now a new study says one of the most commonly used approaches to treating it not only does not work, it might even make it worse!

The study, in the journal Spine, says patients with low back pain are much better off using a soft, body-conforming mattress than a hard one to ease their condition.

The Danish researchers randomly assigned 160 patients with low back pain to sleep on either a waterbed, a body-conforming mattress or a firm mattress. Patients who slept on the waterbed or softer mattress reported sleeping longer and having much less pain.

Those who were assigned to the firmer mattress reported much less sleep and in some cases said their pain got worse. In fact many of those in the firm mattress group say their pain got so bad they dropped out of the study.

Want to Quit Smoking, Run Back to School

Two new studies out have some tips for folks wanting to quit smoking. The researchers found that those most likely to succeed in stopping are better educated and more active.

In the first study, researchers at the University of Wisconsin, showed quit-smoking ads to almost 500 adults. Those with a college degree were twice as likely as those with only a high school diploma to use the ads as a motivator to try and quit.

In the second study, researchers in Canada followed more than 23,000 smokers. They found that physically active men were 36 percent more likely than non-active men to quit, and 37 percent of physically active women were more likely than non-active women to quit.

So, if you want to quit, go back to college, get a degree and take up running. It may simply be that with college tuition fees and the cost of running shoes or gym membership you won’t have any money left over to pay for ciggies. Either way, it works!

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