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Tai Chi

Tai Chi improves a variety of medical conditions

Saturday, July 09, 2011 by: Dave Gabriele
Tags: Tai Chi, medical conditions, health news

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(NewsTarget) We see them in parks slowly and softly moving their limbs in seemingly random ways. We may pass them without thought, but do these Tai Chi practitioners have anything to teach us? As it turns out, Tai Chi is an extremely beneficial practice that grants all kinds of health benefits. The slow flowing moments actually constitute a deceptively complex exercise with amazing health effects. This is due to the fact that one of the main goals in Tai Chi is to integrate the mind and body into a single practice.

Practitioners of the traditional art sing its praises, but what does contemporary science have to say about it? Presented below are the summaries of three studies conducted by prestigious institutions and completed in the first half of 2011.

In May, scientists at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center have published a double-blind study on the effects of practicing Tai Chi and drinking green tea. The results, collected from 171 women, demonstrated that practicing Tai Chi enhanced markers of bone health and muscle strength. "Participants taking tai chi classes also reported significant beneficial effects in quality of life in terms of improving their emotional and mental health." The study also found that practicing Tai Chi and drinking green tea both had a substantial effect on decreasing oxidative stress." Since oxidative stress is a main precursor to inflammation, "this finding suggests that green tea and tai chi may help reduce the underlying etiology of not only osteoporosis, but inflammatory diseases as well."

The April 25th issue of Archives of Internal Medicine published a Tai Chi study that was jointly conducted by the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston. One hundred patients with systolic heart failure were randomized and placed either in a 12 week Tai Chi group or in a time-matched education group. The researchers concluded that Tai Chi "may provide value in improving daily exercise, quality of life, self-efficacy and mood in frail, deconditioned patients with systolic heart failure." In other words, practicing Tai Chi helped people with heart failure become happier and more independent.

Finally, researchers at UCLA published a study in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in March concerning the effect of Tai Chi practice on depression in the elderly. The study tested 112 adults aged over 60 with major depression and randomized them into either a two-hour per week Tai Chi group or an education group. After 10 weeks, the researchers found that not only had the Tai Chi group fared significantly better at reducing depression than the education group, but they had also significantly improved physical functioning, cognitive functioning and a decline in C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation.



About the author

Dave Gabriele, D.Ac, BA, is a registered acupuncturist, a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine and a health researcher helping people in and around the Greater Toronto Area. He is the founder of Life Balance Family Health Care (www.balanceyourlife.ca), an organization committed to providing people with the information and guidance they need to make positive lifestyle changes. Dave has been a teacher of Chinese martial arts since 1997, including the arts of Taiji and Qigong.

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