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Boosting heart health, the Tai Chi way

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Washington D.C.: For those with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or stroke, a new research suggests that traditional Chinese exercises such as Tai Chi could be a healthy move for your heart.

Co-author Yu Liu from the Shanghai University of Sport in China said that traditional Chinese exercises are a low-risk, promising intervention that could be helpful in improving quality of life in patients with cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of disability and death in the world, but the physical and psychological benefits to these patients of this increasingly popular form of exercise must be determined based on scientific evidence.

Lead author Chen Pei-Jie and his team reviewed 35 studies, including 2,249 participants from 10 countries and found that among participants with cardiovascular disease, Chinese exercises helped reduce systolic blood pressure (the top number) by more than 9.12 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by more than 5 mm Hg on average.

They also found small, but statistically significant drops in the levels of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) and triglycerides. Chinese exercises also seemed to improve quality of life and reduce depression in patients with cardiovascular disease.

However, traditional Chinese exercises did not significantly improve participant’s heart rate, aerobic fitness level or scores on a general health questionnaire.

The review only analyzed studies which randomly assigned participants to groups performing traditional Chinese exercises (most commonly Tai Chi, Qigong and Baduanjin), engaging in another form of exercise or making no change in activity level.

The study appears in JAHA: Journal of the American Heart Association.

ANI

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