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Originally published May 4 2011

Tai Chi is good for your heart

by David Hutto

(NaturalNews) The benefits of exercise are usually thought of as coming from hard workouts -- no pain, no gain. While the benefits of hard aerobic exercise are real, there is surprising news from the April issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, associated with the Journal of the American Medical Association. According to the results of a clinical study published in the journal, the Chinese practice of Tai Chi "may improve quality of life, mood, and exercise self-efficacy" of patients with systolic heart disease.

Increasingly in the United States, people practicing Tai Chi may be seen in slow flowing motions as they transition from one pose to another. While they are not lifting weights, jogging, or playing sports, they are apparently getting serious health benefits from the exercises.

The study that was just published reported the results of a clinical trial at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston. The trial looked at heart failure patients who took a twice-weekly Tai Chi class.

By the end of the three-month study, the practitioners of Tai Chi were found to have increased confidence in going about everyday tasks. In addition, they were able to follow more active lifestyles than a group who attended health education classes instead of Tai Chi. These results can be compared to the benefits of Tai Chi for stroke, previously reported (

Previous studies of Tai Chi practitioners have found increases in bone density, lowered blood pressure, and improvements in the immune system, although such benefits would normally be expected only from more rigorous aerobic exercises.

The current study, which involved a less active form of Tai Chi, did not find increases in aerobic fitness, but it did find general improvements in health and attitude. It has previously been found to have other health benefits as well (

The lead author of the study, Dr. Gloria Y. Yeh, says that getting patients to continue exercising is one of the real positives of this form of activity. "We know one of the biggest assets of any exercise regimen is adherence," she said. "This makes accessibility one of Tai Chi's most valuable components." More than three fourths of the study participants kept up the practice of Tai Chi for the entire 12 weeks, and many were still practicing it at follow-up six months later.

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