practice Tai Chi

Tai Chi improves brain metabolism and muscle energetics in older adults, study finds

A new?Journal of Neuroimaging?study provides insights into the biochemical mechanisms by which Tai Chi — a mind-body exercise — may provide both physical and psychological benefits.

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that, today, is practiced as a graceful form of exercise. It involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing.

It is often described as “meditation in motion,” but it might well be called “medicationin motion.” There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice, which originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health problems.

Also called tai chi chuan, is a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching. Each posture flows into the next without pause, ensuring that your body is in constant motion.

Tai chi has many different styles. Each style may subtly emphasize various tai chi principles and methods. There are variations within each style. Some styles may focus on health maintenance, while others focus on the martial arts aspect of tai chi.?n this low-impact, slow-motion exercise, you go without pausing through a series of motions named for animal actions ? for example, “white crane spreads its wings” ? or martial arts moves, such as “box both ears.”

Tai chi is different from yoga, another type of meditative movement. Yoga includes various physical postures and breathing techniques, along with meditation.

Using magnetic resonance spectroscopy, a non-invasive method of measuring brain and muscle chemistry using MRI machines, tests conducted in 6 older adults enrolled in a 12-week program revealed significant increases in a marker of neuronal health in the brain and significantly improved recovery rates of a metabolite involved in energy production in leg muscles.

“The benefits of Tai Chi have been well known anecdotally; however recent research such as our study can quantify these improvements using objective measures,” said senior author Dr. Alexander Lin, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

 

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