Experienced practitioners of tai chi, the traditional Chinese mind-body exercise, have improved expansion and contraction of arteries (arterial compliance) and improved knee strength, according to a recent study.
The findings of better muscle strength without jeopardizing arterial compliance suggest that tai chi may well be a suitable exercise for older people to improve both cardiovascular function and body strength.
A number of studies, the researchers explain, have shown that strength training to improve muscle function and to offset the effects of aging has also been accompanied by a decline in arterial compliance.
Arterial stiffness—when an artery fails to distend or rebound in response to pressure changes—is closely associated with cardiovascular diseases, possibly through elevated blood and pulse pressure and atherosclerosis. Arterial compliance has been identified as an important predictor of cardiovascular health in the elderly and as a therapeutic target for physical exercise in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Health benefits of tai chi:
- Improved muscle strength.
- Increased flexibility.
- Better balance.
- Provides aerobic conditioning.
Compared to a group of individuals who did not practice tai chi, the tai chi study subjects were better in blood pressure, vascular resistance and pulse pressure. Both large and small artery compliance was higher in the tai chi group by 40-44 percent. Tai chi subjects had greater average muscle strength in both their knee extensors and flexors.
Because tai chi can be practiced anytime, anywhere, and without the constraints of equipment or a gym, the researchers add, this traditional Chinese exercise could be a good exercise strategy for older adults, both for vascular health and for muscle strengthening.
Acupuncture & Massage College’s Community Clinic offers acupuncture, massage therapy and herbal medicine for the treatment of a wide range of health conditions as well as for overall wellness. To schedule an appointment call (305) 595-9500. For information about AMC’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs ask for Joe Calareso, Admissions Director.