Moves for Mind and Mood
A unique mental and physical health program for people ages 60 and over.
Research confirms that regular physical activity can be as effective as antidepressants or cognitive-behavioural therapy for treating depression. Fifty-five percent of patients with major depression who engage in regular physical activity benefit from a significant reduction in symptoms.
The benefits of physical activity can increase when exercise is combined with mindfulness, a mental state of focused awareness on the present moment. Mindfulness helps people to calmly acknowledge and accept their emotions, thoughts, and sensations. Borrowed from Buddhist psychology, mindfulness is used in western psychiatry to help treat depression and anxiety, and to prevent relapse of major depression.
The mindful state has been investigated using the methods of cognitive psychology, and the two currents have been joined together in therapy. Mindful awareness of what is happening to us physically and consciously helps to improve emotional regulation. It is an important part of evidence-based therapies such as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy.
Mindful attention to movement can enhance our attention and cognitive control. Research has shown that this works well with movement based not on forceful physical effort, but on sensitivity to variation and on exploring new kinds of movements. Martial arts such as Tai Chi are associated with increased mindfulness and subjective well-being. They also promote improved global cognitive function, memory and learning, mental speed and attention, visuospatial perception, language, and abstraction among the elderly with mild cognitive impairment.
Moves for Mind and Mood offers seniors a gentle program using the following static and dynamic mindfulness practices:
- Interoceptive meditation
- Mindful movement drawn from Buddhism and Yoga
- Mindful execution of Tai Chi-like manoeuvres adapted from a martial art called Wing Chun that is well suited to seniors.
Participants also engage in solution-focused psychoeducation about the scientific basis of the cognitive-behavioural model, and the role of mindfulness in mood, anxiety, and cognitive health for older people. The group sessions foster peer support and social interaction, both of which are effective in reducing depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline.
Weekly classes are delivered via Zoom, roughly 90 minutes in length for eight weeks. Participation is voluntary. The leader, Daniel McBain, MD, is a former family physician with a focused practice in primary care psychiatry, medical psychotherapy, and counselling. Dr McBain is also a black sash candidate in Wing Chun Kung Fu.
Who Can Participate
Moves for Mind and Mood is suitable for people who meet the following criteria:
- Age 60 years or older
- Mild to moderate depression and/or anxiety and/or mild cognitive decline
- Do not have any physical conditions incompatible with mild physical activity, including but not limited to ischaemic heart disease, respiratory disease, limited mobility, orthostatic hypotension, sensory deficit
- Capable of managing basic computer functions
- Able to interact effectively in a group context
A doctor’s referral is required. Please ask your doctor to fill out this form and fax it to MDABC.
Patients will be assessed for depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline before and after the program, using the following instruments: PHQ-9, GAD-7, MoCA.
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