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Tai Chi has physical, psychological benefits


A review of previously published studies suggests that among patients with chronic health conditions, Tai Chi appears to have beneficial effects on balance, flexibility, and cardiovascular health, according to a review article in the March 8 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

According to the article, Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese martial art that has been practiced in China for centuries. Tai Chi combines deep breathing with relaxation and postures that flow from one to another through slow movements. Tai Chi is practiced to promote good health, memory, concentration, digestion, balance, and flexibility and is thought to improve anxiety and depression, the article states.

Chenchen Wang, M.D., M.Sc., of Tufts-New England Medical Center, Boston, and colleagues analyzed 47 studies identified by a search of English and Chinese databases of medical literature that reported on the effects of Tai Chi in patients with various chronic health conditions.

"Overall, these studies reported that long-term Tai Chi practice had favorable effects on the promotion of balance control, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness and reduced the risk of falls in elders," the authors write.

"Benefits were reported by the authors of these studies in cardiovascular and respiratory function in healthy subjects and in patients who had undergone coronary artery bypass surgery as well as in patients with heart failure, hypertension, acute myocardial infarction, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis," report the researchers. "Benefit was also found for balance, strength, and flexibility in older subjects; falls in frail elderly subjects; and pain, stress, and anxiety in healthy subjects."

The authors also state that the mechanisms behind the benefits from practicing Tai Chi are not well known.

Melissa McPherson | EurekAlert!
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