Yoga benefits childhood cancer patients and their parents

Yoga can reduce the stress of cancer diagnosis and treatment experienced by childhood cancer patients and their parents, says a study.

As per the research, parents and adolescents showed a decrease in anxiety and increase in sense of well-being following yoga sessions conducted at the Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

“Yoga is emerging as an effective complementary therapy in adult oncology. Promising benefits for decreasing symptom distress including fatigue, insomnia, mood, and stress resulting in improved quality of life,” said the authors of the study.

The authors explored a new area, focusing on childhood cancer patients and their families, noting that parents experience stress and anxiety because of the uncertainty of the disease and the suffering of their children.

Children in the study between the ages of 7-12 did not show any change in their anxiety or sense of well-being. However, adolescents between the ages of 13-18 years and the parents of hospitalised patients showed significant improvement.

“Teens reported that that they felt relaxed and calmer, and that it (yoga) was fun,” the authors wrote.

Parents found the yoga sessions were relaxing, allowed them to stretch their muscles and strengthen their bodies, and relieved stress.

Yoga lowers heart rate and blood pressure and improves circulation and oxygenation. It also improves muscle tone, circulation, pulmonary function, coordination and flexibility.

“Larger studies are needed to evaluate the influence of yoga on other distressing patient symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbance, pain and nauseam” authors add.

The findings are published in the September/October 2010 edition of Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing.

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