Heart-failure patients who practice tai chi report better mood and overall sense of well being, according to a study published issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. That’s one reason I often recommend it to my patients.
Researchers at Boston Deaconess Hospital looked at 50 people who, in addition to standard heart-failure treatment, were taught the basics of tai chi, an ancient Chinese form of exercise. After three months, the tai chi participants reported improved mood and quality of life compared with a group of people who just had standard care.
Other research suggests tai chi might also help people suffering from arthritis, brain injury, fibromyalgia, heart disease, high blood pressure, and Parkinson’s disease.
In my travels throughout China, I often marveled at the people gathered in parks in the early morning or late afternoon rhythmically moving in this slow but graceful exericse. Tai chi emphasizes balance and harmony as you extend and flex your body, relaxing your mind and spirit at the same time that it tones your body. For that reason, it’s often called meditation in motion.
I find it a safe and effective example of integrative health where you and your doctor work together to find the combination of treatments—including conventional and alternative ones—that work best for you.