Scientists Wowed by Tai Chi's Health Benefits
Posted on:Tues Oct 20th 2015
Written By:Valerie Burke, MSN
Tai Chi is not what you would consider a "highly aerobic" exercise, which makes the following cardiac study even more compelling. Researchers examined the effects of eight weeks of Tai Chi on women with elevated cardiovascular risk. Researchers concluded Tai Chi helped down-regulate proinflammatory cytokines (associated with increased cardiovascular risk), including interferon gamma, tumor necrosis factor, interleukin and IL-4. They also found that the discipline increased "mindfulness, spiritual thoughts and self-compassion."
Tai Chi's Psychological Effects are Equally Impressive
Positive psychological impacts may be the most powerful gift Tai Chi has to offer. The broadest review to date is a meta-analysis, published in BioMed Central, that found Tai Chi produced broadly beneficial psychological effects ranging from increased self-esteem to reductions in stress, anxiety, depression and other mood disturbances.
Results of a 2008 study suggest Tai Chi's psychological benefits can even extend to traumatized refugees and torture survivors, as well as seniors with major depression. Positive psychological effects have also been documented in those suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBI). A pilot study found Tai Chi to be effective at mitigating the deterioration in interpersonal functioning among patients with schizophrenia.
Special Benefits for Seniors
Tai Chi offers a number of powerful health benefits for the elderly. Seniors are the fastest growing segment of our population. The percentage of Americans age 65 and over increased from 4.1% in 1900 to 13.0 % in 2010, and is projected to reach 20.9% by 2050. It's no surprise seniors' healthcare needs are increasing along with their numbers.
It's widely known that the elderly have a higher risk for falls and fractures. A 2012 study found Thai Chi more effective than traditional physiotherapy at preventing falls due to its improvements in balance, posture, muscle strength, range of motion, proprioception and coordination. Three studies support the effectiveness of Thai Chi in reducing bone fractures among older adults, including a 2011 meta-analysis. Other studies show similar benefits for patients suffering from Parkinson's disease, chronic stroke, and multiple sclerosis (MS).
Tai Chi has been described as a "moving meditation"—but with the abundance of literature highlighting its head-to-toe benefits, some are now calling it "moving medication." You can learn Tai Chi at home from books or the Internet, but joining a class with an experienced instructor will ensure you're doing the movements correctly and safely.
 Chen YW, Hunt MA, Campbell KL, Peill K, and Reid WD The effect of Tai Chi on four chronic conditions—cancer, osteoarthritis, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review and meta-analyses. Br J Sports Med September 2015 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2014-094388
 Yeh G, Wang C, Wayne PM, and Phillips RS. The Effect of Tai Chi Exercise on Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review Preventive Cardiology Spring 2008,Vol.11(2):82-9
 Morgan N, Irwin MR, Chung M, and Wang C. The Effects of Mind-Body Therapies on the Immune System: Meta-Analysis PLoS One. 2014; 9(7): e100903.
 Wang C, Bannuru R, Ramel J, Kupelnick B, Scott T, and Schmid CH. Tai Chi on psychological well-being: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2010, 10:23 doi:10.1186/1472-6882-10-23
 Ho RT, Au Yeung FS, Lo PH, Law KY, Wong KO, Cheung IK, and Ng SM. Tai-chi for residential patients with schizophrenia on movement coordination, negative symptoms, and functioning: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012:923925. doi: 10.1155/2012/923925
 Tousignant M, Corriveua H, Roy PM, Desrosiers J, Dubuc N, Hebert R, Tremblay-Boudreault V, and Beaudoin AJ. The effect of supervised Tai Chi intervention compared to a physiotherapy program on fall-related clinical outcomes: a randomized clinical trial. Disabil Rehabil. 2012;34(3):196-201. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2011.591891
 Azimzadeh E, Hosseini MA, Nourozi K, and Davidson PM. Effect of Tai Chi Chuan on balance in women with multiple sclerosis. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2015 Feb;21(1):57-60. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2014.09.002.- See more at: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/scientists-wowed-tai-chis-health-benefits?page=2#sthash.N7WR7SdD.dpuf