Can Body Therapies Boost Your Weight Loss Journey? 
Sunday, May 10, 2015
LifeTime WeightLoss in Anika Christ, Lifestyle, Sleep, Stress, Stress and Sleep, Support, back pain, bodywork, chiropractic, complementary medicine, massage, spa

When was the last time you had a massage - or other form of bodywork?

An increasing number of people are embracing hands-on therapies as part of their health and wellness routines.

Long gone are the days when massage was simply seen as a form of pampering. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, 91% of surveyed consumers view massage as beneficial to health and wellness. Seventy-four percent, in fact, believe it should be a form of healthcare.

Although therapeutic massage might be one of the most commonly sought after body therapies, other popular forms include chiropractic care, reflexology and acupuncture.  

What are body therapies?

Most often described as manipulative and body-based methods, these forms of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) are based on the relationship between your body’s structure and function. They involve hands-on touch or movement techniques to one or more parts of your body.

They often focus on the lymphatic and circulatory systems along with bones, joints and soft tissues to help produce desirable physiological effects.

How can bodywork help my weight loss?

Although practicing a healthy diet and exercise regime will always be the foundation for losing or maintaining your weight, you might consider massage or other body therapies as part of your personal weight loss or transformation journey.

Health practitioners are increasingly recommending such treatments for various areas of well-being. Below are a few of the powerful benefits that common body therapies can offer your health and, in turn, your weight loss process.

Manage Stress

Life Time’s stress and resilience test is one of our most popular assessment options. With most of us navigating a high stress lifestyle, it’s no wonder that we want to know if and how our cortisol levels (stress hormones) are impacting our weight related goals as well as our overall health.

Cortisol is notorious for triggering our internal “fight-or-flight” response. When this hormone goes into overdrive, levels can accumulate or remain chronically elevated and, in turn, lead to increased sugar cravings, higher blood sugars and expanding waistlines. 

Both massage and reflexology have been shown to reduce cortisol and enhance a person’s ability to cope with stress, as both therapies stimulate the body’s parasympathetic “rest-and-relax” nervous system (opposite of cortisol). 

Reduce Inflammation Post-Exercise

Chronic inflammation can get in the way of our goals and have a negative impact on our health and body weight. Most often, it’s what gets in the way of your body’s ability to release stored fat. Many first-time clients of mine have found this out the hard way by “hitting-it-too-hard” right after they became club members, often going for a too intense workout regime and not allowing for proper recovery.

If you’ve been hitting it hard at the gym for a while, you may consider massage or chiropractic sessions to help fight inflammation that may develop with skeletal muscle damage from exercise. Massage therapy, which works at the cellular level similar to anti-inflammatory medications, has even been shown to benefit those with musculoskeletal injuries. 

Improve Sleep Quality

Whether due to frequent stress, chronic pain or an overcommitted lifestyle (not going to bed on time), inadequate sleep can wreak havoc on our metabolism, and in turn, our weight.

Massage is often associated with better quality sleep by promoting deeper and less disturbed sleep through pain relief and relaxation. Massage can also directly impact the body’s production of serotonin (our feel good hormone), which is essential for the production of melatonin (our sleep hormone).

Decrease Pain 

Most Americans contend with persistent pain at some point in their lives. Due to our sedentary, desk-jockey lifestyles, more of us (even in our younger decades) experience back or even full body pain. If you are like my clients, when your body is in pain, you are less likely to exercise, sleep well or feel well during the day, which of course can end up taking a toll on your weight loss success.

Body therapies can positively impact pain – including chronic lower back pain. One study showed that patients receiving massage were twice as likely as others to report both significant improvement in their pain and functioning and a reduction in their intake of anti-inflammatory medications. 

Although low back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek out massage, they too often wait until the pain is extreme rather than using massage as an effective preventative measure that can keep them active, agile and able to progress toward their health and fitness goals.

Are you interested in learning more about what body therapies might best address your health concerns and support your goals? Talk with a fitness professional or bodywork professional at Life Time today.

In health, Anika Christ – Senior Program Manager of Life Time Weight Loss

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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