How Breathing Exercises Can Impact Your Blood Sugar And Overall Health

 Time to take a literal breather from your stress-related health issues.

Time to take a literal breather from your stress-related health issues.

A new study shows mindfulness may be more effective in this area than traditional health education.

Tired of reading article after article about this one thing that will fix all your health problems? Us too. But hear us out on this one, because a) It’s free b) You already own all the equipment, and c) Science! 

According to a study published in the journal Obesity, mindfulness training was found to reduce stress and its associated blood-sugar levels better than health education, in a study of women struggling with health issues.

In a group of 86 women, some were randomly assigned to eight-week sessions of health education classes, where they learned about diet, exercise and general stress-management techniques. Others were assigned to mindfulness-based stress reduction (MSBR) instruction, where they learned meditation and breathing techniques. 

While both groups experienced a decrease in stress, the MSBR group reaped greater benefits, showing a decrease of 3.6 points on a 10-point scale of perceived stress, as opposed to a 1.3 point decrease in the health-education group. 

But here’s the more noteworthy finding: Only the MSBR group saw a decrease in blood-sugar levels, which remained at a decreased level even when the women were retested eight weeks later.

Researchers suggest that the decrease in blood-sugar levels may be attributed to the notion that “increased mindfulness could have made it easier for the MBSR group to adhere to the diet and exercise guidelines we gave them.” 

The MSBR group also stuck with their assigned programming longer than the health-education group, with 83 percent completing their assignment as opposed to 59 percent, respectively. Turns out letting ourselves breathe is more compelling than staring at a food pyramid.

While the study will need to be replicated amongst a larger and more varied group of people, the efficacy among this group of women is a starting place for the notion that mindfulness may help us stick to plans we lay for our health habits. 

In other words: Time to take a literal breather and rethink the way we're coming at our stress-related health issues. The answer may be simpler than we thought.

Words: Deena Drewis
Photo: Daria Kobayashi Ritch/Giphy