Monday, July 23, 2012

Benefits of Taijiquan Strongly Supported by Science

Taijiquan (formerly Tai Chi Chuan) is a traditional Chinese martial art that has been practiced in Asia for well over a millennia. Today, the art has spread around the world, and it is mostly practiced for its health and longevity benefits and not for its martial qualities. By now, most people have heard the health benefits Taiji offers, but how is it that we know this? Do we know this for certain or is it blind faith in something for the simple reason that it is ancient and beautiful? Science & Taiji What does science have to say about Taiji? Just what are the effects of Taiji? Is it as beneficial as people say? Because of its popularity, there are many studies that have been conducted on the subject all around the globe. Let's take a look at some of the medical research that has been conducted and see whether or not we can form a clearer picture of what Taiji offers. Blood & the Heart The Journal of Preventive Cardiology published a review in 2008 conducted by the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center of Harvard Medical School in Boston. The review examined 26 separate studies into the effects of Taiji on blood pressure and found that Taiji can reduce blood pressure and can also "serve as a practical, non-pharmacological adjunct to conventional hypertension management." (1) In a randomized pilot study on the effects of Taiji on people that have suffered from symptomatic heart failure, British researchers found that subjects exhibited much less symptoms and reported a greater sense of well-being. The findings were published in Postgraduate Medical Journal in 2007. (2) The University of Queensland in Australia published a 2008 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine which observed Taiji prompting significant decreases in blood glucose levels and significant improvements in other indicators of Metabolic Syndrome such as high blood pressure. These indicators are both associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. (3) Diabetes Taiji was found to increase the immune function of patients with type-2 diabetes in another 2008 study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine . Type-2 diabetes is associated with chronic inflammation, caused by excessive glucose in the blood (hyperglycaemia). After a 12-week program, participants had decreased levels of glycated haemoglobin, decreased levels of immune-suppressant interleukin-4 and twice the amount of immune-booster interleukin-12. T cell activity, a key component of the body's immune system, increased significantly. The subjects also showed a decrease in inflammation which is attributed to a fall in blood-sugar levels and improvement in the blood-glucose metabolism. (4) Immune System In a 2007 investigation into the effects of Taiji on older adults, researchers from the University of California discovered that practicing Taiji boosted the participants' immune systems to levels comparable to having received the standard vaccine against the shingles-causing varicella zoster virus. (5) Stress The Medical Science Monitor published a 2007 study which examined the stress reducing aspects of Taiji. Researchers from the Coburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany found that Taiji reduced both subjective and objective stress levels in participants. As an added bonus, it was found that the subjects were much healthier physically and mentally after the study. (6) Parkinson's & Alzheimer's Taiji has been shown to offer many benefits to people suffering from Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease. Medicine and Sports Science journal published a study in 2008 that found that Taiji has "clinical relevance for both conditions." It was found that Taiji offered the most important elements of Parkinson's disease management, that is, the prevention of falls, tremor reduction and increased motor control. (7) Similar findings were found in a 2008 study in the journal Gait & Posture titled "Tai Chi improves balance and mobility in people with Parkinson disease." (8) Benefits for people living with Alzheimer's disease include general and behavioral health increases as well as the slowing of functional and cognitive decline. Bone Density & Osteoarthritis A 2007 review of six studies into the effect of Taiji on bone mineral density in postmenopausal women found that "Tai Chi may be an effective, safe, and practical intervention for maintaining bone mineral density in postmenopausal women." This review was published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation . (9) The medical journal Arthritis & Rheumatism published a 2007 study from the American College of Rheumatology in which patients with osteoarthritis, a painful and debilitating condition of degenerating joints, experienced a significant decrease in pain and an increase in physical function. (10) The Findings of a Large-Scale Medical Review An extensive review of over 200 studies published in The American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation , titled "Comprehensive Therapeutic Benefits of Taiji: A Critical Review," summed the general medical attitude towards Taiji very nicely. The review stated that "Controlled research evidence was found to confirm therapeutic benefits of Taiji practice with regard to improving quality of life, physical function including activity tolerance and cardiovascular function, pain management, balance and risk of falls reduction, enhancing immune response, and improving flexibility, strength, and kinesthetic sense." (11) Source - www.naturalnews.com

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