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Tai Chi reduces arthritis pain

For this study, Chenchen Wang, M.D., M.Sc., and colleagues recruited 40 patients from the greater Boston area with confirmed knee OA who were in otherwise good health. The mean age of participants was 65 years with a mean body mass index of 30.0 kg/m2. Patients were randomly selected and 20 were asked to participate in 60-minute Yang style Tai Chi sessions twice weekly for 12 weeks. Each session included: a 10-minute self-massage and a review of Tai Chi principles; 30 minutes of Tai Chi movement; 10 minutes of breathing technique; and 10 minutes of relaxation.

The remaining 20 participants assigned to the control group attended two 60-minute class sessions per week for 12 weeks. Each control session included 40 minutes of instruction covering OA as a disease, diet and nutrition, therapies to treat OA, or physical and mental health education. The final 20 minutes consisted of stretching exercises involving the upper body, trunk, and lower body, with each stretch being held for 10-15 seconds.

At the end of the 12-week period, patients practicing Tai Chi exhibited a significant decrease in knee pain compared with those in the control group. Using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) pain scale, researchers noted a -118.80 reduction in pain from baseline between the Tai Chi and control group. Researchers also observed improved physical function, self-efficacy, depression, and health status for knee OA in subjects in the Tai Chi group. “Our observations emphasize a need to further evaluate the biologic mechanisms and approaches of Tai Chi to extend its benefits to a broader population,” concluded Dr. Wang.

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Taking exams: revision tips

By making a plan and organising your time, you can divide your revision into manageable chunks. This will increase your chances of remembering the important facts, and help you avoid last-minute stress.

Find out what you need to know

Make your revision plan as early as possible. This will allow you to work out how much time to spend revising each day and, just as importantly, when to take breaks.

The first step is to get organised: find out when your exam is, and work out how much time you have until then.

Write a revision checklist

Start by dividing the number of days you have until the exam by the number of topics you need to revise. Ask your teacher for a list of topics, or make your own by going through your notes.

Think about any topics that will need more revision time – perhaps you covered them in more detail, or you found them more difficult.

Make a revision plan

When you know how many days you need to spend revising each topic, you'll be able to make revision part of your daily routine. However, you need to be realistic:

  • set aside time on your plan for things you need to do, like going to school and mealtimes
  • split the remaining time into half-hour slots
  • break each topic on your revision checklist down into chunks that you can cover in 30 minutes, and fill your slots with these chunks

Reading your revision notes

When going over your notes, keep in mind what you're looking for:

  • read for detail when you need to a good understanding of the text – take it slowly and ask yourself questions while you're reading
  • 'skim' to get the general idea of a large piece of text – read each paragraph quickly, and identify the main ideas in each one
  • 'scan' to look for a specific piece of information – move quickly through the text, homing in on sub-headings, names, numbers, dates and quotes

Look after yourself

Regular breaks are important if you're going to stay alert while revising. A five-minute break every half-hour is better than a 30-minute break after five hours. Get up, make a drink, tidy your room, check your email – you'll come back refreshed and ready to carry on. Breaks will also help you absorb the information and avoid overload.

Make sure you include a leisure activity in your revision plan twice or three times a week. It's important to set aside time to take your mind off exams.

A healthy mind needs a healthy body, so look after yourself. Lots of sleep and regular exercise will help you stay alert. Your body needs fuel, so eat plenty of easily digestible foods – fresh vegetables and fruit will help keep your energy levels up.

Getting support

If you have any personal problems – for example, with relationships or bullying – there's help available. Try to get support before your revision suffers.

Source: Directgov. Reproduced with permission.

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