Studies & Research on the Benefits of Tai Chi
Tai Chi helps to improve balance and is extremely beneficial in helping senior citizens become more conscious of how they are holding themselves, how they move their bodies and where their distribution of weight is. By focusing on these aspects they are able to make the necessary changes to ensure increased stability, better posture and to walk in a more comfortable, competent manner.
A study carried out at Harvard University in 2006 showed that those who did Tai Chi improved more than 30% in lower body strength and 25% in arm strength - almost as much as those who participated in resistance training and more than those assigned to brisk walking.
A study in 2008 at Tufts University, Boston, found that regular Tai Chi practice reduced pain and improved mood and physical functioning more than standard stretching exercises in people with severe knee osteoarthritis. Another study in Korea confirmed that Tai Chi training significantly improved flexibility and slowed the disease process in patients with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful form of arthrities that affects the spine.
The University of Rochester found that quality of life and functional capacity was improved in women suffering from breast cancer or the side effects of breast cancer treatment, as a result of practicing Tai Chi.
In the majority of trials Tai Chi lowered blood pressure, with improvements ranging from 3 to 32 mm Hg in systolic pressure and from 2 to 18 mm Hg in diastolic pressure.
A study at Taiwan University showed that a year’s study of Tai Chi significantly boosted exercise capacity, lowered blood pressure and improved levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin and C-reactive protein in people at high risk for heart disease
A pilot study on the benefits of Tai Chi at Harvard Medical School reported an improved ability to walk and quality of life. It also reduced blood levels of B-type natriuretic protein, an indicator of heart failure
A study at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis found that people with mild to moderately severe Parkinson’s disease showed improved balance, walking ability and overall well-being after 20 Tai Chi sessions.
Researchers at the University of California studied the effects of Tai Chi on resting and vaccine-stimulated levels of cell-mediated immunity to the varicella zoster virus and on health functioning in older adults. They found that the trialled Tai Chi group also had significant improvements in physical functioning, bodily pain, vitality and mental health.
Researchers in Taiwan carried out a case-control study of 30 pairs type 2 diabetics to investigate the effects of a 12-week course in Tai Chi exercise on T cell helper reaction. After 12 weeks the Tai Chi group had decreased HbA1c levels and increased T cell helper reaction. This indicates Tai Chi alongside medication may be beneficial both to metabolism and immunity in type 2 diabetics.
Study information from the Tai Chi Union of Great Britain
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ANNE WHITEHEAD MSTAT