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Jan 15, 2014

Regular Tai Chi Practice Improves Arterial Compliance and Muscle Strength in Older Adults


"The widely-practiced traditional Chinese mind-body exercise known as Tai Chi has been scientifically validated for its health benefits."






The widely-practiced traditional Chinese mind-body exercise known as Tai Chi has been scientifically validated for its health benefits.  In a study recently published online in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 65 older adults from Hong Kong were recruited.  Just less than half of them were practitioners of Tai Chi for a minimum of 1.5 hours weekly for 3 years.  The control group had no experience with Tai Chi.  Between the groups, there were no differences in age or defined levels of physical activity (light, moderate, or heavy).

Researchers found that the practitioners of Tai Chi experienced better blood pressures, vascular resistance, and pulse pressures in comparison to non-practitioners.  Both large and small artery compliance, predictors of cardiovascular health, were substantially higher (40-44%) in the Tai Chi group.  Those in the Tai Chi group also demonstrated better average muscle strength in knee extensors and flexors.  

Known for its aerobic benefits and ability to lower blood pressure, Tai Chi has been proven to improve cardiopulmonary function in individuals with heart conditions like chronic heart failure and myocardial infarction.  New research findings coupled with a significant historical record of use supports the notion that Tai Chi may be an excellent exercise strategy for improving cardiovascular health and muscle strength in older adults.   

Dr. Shana McQueen