Tags: tai chi | senior health | lowers blood pressure | strengthens muscles | arterial compliance

Tai Chi Reduces Blood Pressure

Monday, 09 Apr 2012 07:47 AM


A new study claims that practicing the ancient Chinese martial art of tai chi can boost the health of seniors by lowering blood pressure and strengthening muscles.

Researchers from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University looked at 65 elderly participants from Hong Kong — 29 of whom were recruited from local tai chi clubs and practiced tai chi for 90 minutes a week over a period of three years. Findings showed that people who practiced the technique, which entails deep breathing combined with gentle movements, showed a significant improvement in knee muscle strength.

Perhaps more importantly, regular tai chi also improved the expansion and contraction of the arteries (also known as arterial compliance), which helps ward off cardiovascular disease. Seniors in the study who didn’t practice had a 44 percent higher risk of heart disease that those who did.

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“This is the first study to investigate the possible effects of tai chi on arterial compliance by comparing older tai chi practitioners with non-practitioners similar in age and activity level,” said Dr. William Tsang, who worked on the study.

“The improvement in arterial compliance could have resulted from a combination of aerobic training, stretching, mental concentration, and calm meditation during tai chi movement.”

The study was published online on April 4 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

The new study adds to a growing body of recent research on the health perks of a regular tai chi program. Last year, in two separate studies, researchers found that tai chi can lift depression, help prevent falls, and improve mental health in older people.

Another recent U.S. study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that heart patients can boost their quality of life and feelings of well-being by doing tai chi. Published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine, a separate study found that people with Parkinson's disease who practiced tai chi for six months showed better balance than counterparts who did other forms of exercise.

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Copyright AFP/Relaxnews 2012




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Seniors who practice tai chi lower their blood pressure and strengthen their muscles, recent research finds.
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