By Bob Condor

We are long past associating a massage with pampering or strictly a luxury item. But it is always a welcome development to confirm something that feels so, well, relaxing, can be highly therapeutic too.

The newest scientific kudo for massage therapy comes from Louisiana State University researcher Dr. Alan Kaye and colleagues. In a study involving 263 volunteers, one 45- to 60-minute deep-tissue massage reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings by 10 and 5 points, respectively. What’s more, the massage therapy session decreased the volunteers’ resting heart rates by 11 beats per minute, on average.

Publishing the findings this spring in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Kaye did some calculating about what a regular massage would do for life span. He estimated it could add up to six years on your life. He said the positive effects of a massage can last for days—a body phenomenon that exercise researchers have pointed out is the case for weightlifting too—and that “the more you experience the benefits of massage therapy, the more likely your body is to adjust permanently.”

While massage therapists have numerous clients who swear by the healing and rejuvenating capacity of the practice, it is not surprising that detractors are still out there and

vocal. That’s why this study is important, along with earlier research showing massage therapy encourages sleep (even under the stresses of hospital care), increases range of motion, accelerates healing from injury, reduces pain and prevents complications from mastectomies. Other studies suggest massage and touch therapy can improve the body’s defenses against cancer, arthritis and autism.

So every study that comes from highly credible sources such as Louisiana State’s Health Sciences Center helps place massage more squarely with “therapy” rather than “luxury.” The DHB is good with that. Now, let me check my calendar for my next massage appointment…

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“Bob Condor is the Daily Health Blogger for Barton Publishing . He is also the Living Well columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer . He covers natural health and quality of life issues and writes regularly for national magazines, including Life, Esquire, Parade, Self, and Outside. He is a former syndicated health columnist for the Chicago Tribune and author of six books, including “The Good Mood Diet” and “Your Prostate Cancer Survivors' Guide.” He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two 11-year-old kids.