Add another benefit to the long list of reasons to get a massage: weight loss. According to new research, reducing one’s stress might also reduce one’s pant size.

A new Kaiser Permanente study found that people trying to lose at least 10 pounds were more likely to reach that goal if they had lower stress levels and slept more than six hours but not more than eight hours a night, according to a Kaiser press release.

Many other studies have shown massage therapy induces relaxation, reduces pain and creates well-being, while it also reduces stress and depression and improves sleep patterns.

“This study suggests that when people are trying to lose weight, they should try to get the right amount of sleep and reduce their stress,” said lead author Charles Elder, an investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon, who also leads Integrative Medicine at Kaiser Permanente Northwest.

The paper was published recently in the International Journal of Obesity and was the result of a study funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Nearly 500 participants from Kaiser Permanente in Oregon and Washington took part in the study, which measured whether sleep, stress, depression, television viewing and computer screen time were correlated with weight loss, the press release noted. Several previous studies have found an association between these factors and obesity, but few have looked at whether these factors predict weight loss.

Participants were asked to lose at least 10 pounds over six months. Participants attended weekly meetings at which they were weighed and advised to reduce calorie intake by 500 calories per day, adopt a low-fat, low-sugar diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, increase physical activity to 180 minutes a week and keep daily food records.

The research team found that sleep and stress levels were good predictors of weight loss, but depression and screen time were not.

—Karen Menehan

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