Tai chi promotes arterial flexibility and muscle strength

Seniors who practice tai chi regularly demonstrate improved arterial compliance (the ability of arteries to expand and contract with the pumping of the heart), as well as increased leg muscle strength, according to a Hong Kong study. Arterial compliance is an important predictor of cardiovascular health in the elderly and a therapeutic target for physical exercise in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Twenty-nine elderly subjects, who had practised tai chi for at least 1.5 hours a week for three years, were compared with 36 age-matched subjects with no tai chi experience. The tai chi practitioners scored better than controls in almost all haemodynamic parameters, including blood pressure, vascular resistance and pulse pressure. Previous studies have shown that strength training, which improves muscle function, is accompanied by a decline in arterial compliance. The authors conclude that the combined beneficial effects of tai chi on vascular health and muscle strength make it a good exercise strategy for older adults. (Tai Chi, arterial compliance, and muscle strength in older adults. Eur J Prev Cardiolog. 2012 Apr 4. [Epub ahead of print]).


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