A new study published online this month in the “European Journal of Preventive Cardiology,” shows seniors practicing the ancient Chinese martial art of tai chi can boost their heart health, lowering blood pressure and strengthening muscles, the New York Daily News reported.
Researchers from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University studied 65 elderly participants from Hong Kong, of which 29 were recruited from local tai chi clubs and practiced tai chi for 90 minutes a week over a period of three years, according to the report. Those who practiced the technique, which includes deep breathing combined with gentle movements, showed the following:
- significant improvement in knee muscle strength
- improvement in the expansion and contraction of the arteries (known as arterial compliance), which helps prevent cardiovascular disease
- seniors in the study who didn’t practice had a 44 percent higher risk of heart disease than those who did
“This is the first study to investigate the possible effects of tai chi on arterial compliance by comparing older tai chi practitioners with non-practitioners similar in age and activity level,” said researcher Dr. William Tsang in the NY Daily News report. “The improvement in arterial compliance could have resulted from a combination of aerobic training, stretching, mental concentration and calm meditation during tai chi movement.”