Ann Baldwin, PhD, professor of physiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, has received the 2018 Humanitarian Heart Award from the Institute of HeartMath in recognition of her work toward the healing, enrichment and well-being of others.
HeartMath is a nonprofit research and education organization that researches and develops tools and programs to bridge the connection between the heart and mind. HeartMath methodologies focus on restoring mental, emotional and physical balance.
Dr. Baldwin, a physiology research scientist, horsewoman and certified HeartMath coach and trainer, became interested in mind-body balance and stress reduction after moving laboratory rats to a new lab space. "They were stressed by the excessive noise and the business of people coming in and out of the rooms all day long," she said. Dr. Baldwin realized the extent to which stress could affect the body and the importance of controlling it.
She started her business, Mind-Body-Science, using Reiki, equine therapy and the latest technologies and techniques of biofeedback and HeartMath to help people and animals reduce stress.
At the UA, Dr. Baldwin teaches an undergraduate course, “Physiology of Mind-Body Interactions,” where students learn how to take control of their stress response and maximize their cognitive skills using horses and HeartMath tools.
“This provides the students with an invaluable life skill they can take with them as they move on to further education, training and careers,” she said.
Dr. Baldwin also uses HeartMath techniques and devices in her research. Currently, she is working on a project at a local assisted living facility, where residents are encouraged to actively engage with horses on site. She and her UA undergraduate students prepare the residents for the interaction using Heart Focused Breathing and take physiological measurements from the horses and humans using HeartMath devices before, during and after the activity.
“It is amazing how much more enlivened and outgoing the residents become after engaging with the horses.” she says. “In addition, I have seen high blood pressure fall and improvements in heart rate and nervous system regulation.”