Research into the traditional Chinese martial art and sport of tai chi suggests that it could be beneficial in increasing the number of critical cells that promote anti-aging effects, according to a new study.
The researchers said their study, published in Issue 23 of Cell Transplantation
, revealed that tai chi raised the level in CD34+ cells, a stem cell important to the number of the body's functions and structures, according to a statement.
The study compared the benefits of tai chi to brisk walking to no exercise, according to the statement.
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"To evaluate the potential life-lengthening effect of tai chi, we conducted a year-long, retrospective cross-sectional study comparing the rejuvenating and anti-aging effects among three groups of volunteers under the age of 25 who engaged in either tai chi (TCC), brisk walking (BW), or no exercise habit (NEH)," said Dr. Shinn-Zong Lin, one of the study's authors.
"We used young volunteers because they have better cell-renewing abilities than the old population and we also wanted to avoid having chronic diseases and medications as interfering factors," noted Lin, of the Center for Neuropsychiatry at the China Medical University Hospital, in Taichung, Taiwan.
The authors said they found that tai chi benefitted patients with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease and fibromyalgia. The authors added that tai chi helped in pain reduction, fall prevention and balance improvement, aerobic capacity, blood pressure, quality of life and stress reduction.
"This study provides the first step into providing scientific evidence for the possible health benefits of tai chi," said Dr. Paul R. Sanberg, distinguished professor at the University of South Florida, Tampa, according to Psych Central
. "Further study of how tai chi can elicit benefit in different populations and on different parameters of aging are necessary to determine its full impact."
Tai chi involves a series of slow, focused movements accompanied by deep breathing, according to the Mayo Clinic
. Also known as tai chi chuan, it is a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching.
Tai chi has many different styles each with its own emphasis on various tai chi principles and methods, notes the Mayo Clinic. Some tai chi styles may focus on health maintenance, while others focus on the martial arts aspect of tai chi.
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