Tai chi helps reduce inflammation and cardiovascular disease risk in women

Practising tai chi (TC) can help reduce pro-inflammatory factors associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in women, according to American researchers. In a randomised trial of 63 women aged 35 to 50 years who were at increased risk for CVD, a wait-list control group was compared with a group who undertook an eight-week tai chi intervention. The tai chi group attended weekly 60 minute instructor-led group classes and were encouraged to practice for 15 minutes per day at home. At the end of the eight-week intervention, tai chi was found to result in significantly decreases in fatigue and reduced serum levels of granulocyte colony stimulating factor (a pro-inflammatory cytokine). At follow-up, two months post intervention, the results indicated that tai chi practice had down-regulated multiple pro-inflammatory cytokines associated with underlying CVD risk, including interferon gamma, tumour necrosis factor, interleukin-8 and interleukin-4. Participants also reported increases in mindfulness, spiritual thoughts and behaviours, and self-compassion. The tai chi practice performed was tailored to address specific biological contributors to CVD. It included several ‘medical qigong’ movements, such as the Thymus Tap and Kidney Rub, purported to target the endocrine and immune systems. The study authors note that changes in several cytokines associated with functional signalling within these systems were found.

The Effects of Tai Chi on Cardiovascular Risk in Women. Am J Health Promot. 2015 Aug 25. [Epub ahead of print]).

 

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