Stop scrolling. Now inhale slowly, concentrating on expanding your lungs, to a count of five. Exhale, just as slowly and deliberately, as you count to five.
You might find that, in just that 10 seconds, you suddenly feel just a little bit more relaxed or centred. Follow the same practice for 20 minutes a few times a week and – according to the research – you might not just reap the benefits of feeling calmer. You may also be helping to prevent the onset of various diseases, including, a recent study has suggested, even Alzheimer’s disease.
The benefits of breathing exercises – sometimes called “breathwork” – have been recognised for millennia. In more recent decades, scientific studies seem to support what people in many cultures, particularly in Asia, have long practiced: that deliberate breathing may help to improve a variety of health conditions, including hypertension, stress, anxiety, and even chronic pain.
In the latest study, researchers measured biomarkers in blood plasma that are associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s, particularly amyloid beta 40 and 42. Half of the 108 participants were told to try to bring themselves to a place of calm by imagining a serene scene, listening to relaxing sounds, and closing their eyes – essentially, mindfulness meditation. The goal was to decrease their heart rate oscillations, encouraging their heart rate to have a steadier, more consistent beat. [Continue reading…]