"In the thirty years that I have been teaching and practicing Tai Chi Chuan, I have seen many benefit from its regular practice over time. Improvements in breathing volume and blood oxygen levels, balance, flexibility, and general increased health and stamina are some of the things that people tell me are the results of their time spent in the cultivation of the Tai Chi Chuan movements...these are the most rewarding things a teacher can hear, and have kept me endeavoring to teach this art.".....sifu Jeffrey Zauderer
HERE ARE SOME STUDIES AND TOPICS FROM 1990 TO THE PRESENT RELATED TO TAI CHI EFFECTS
Studies by the National Institute on Aging (NIA ), launched in1990: Two studies, one by Steven L Wolf, PhD, and the other by Leslie Wolfson, MD, and collegues, found that Tai Chi was effective in improving balance and strength among older people. Older people taking part in a 15 week Tai Chi program reduced their risk of falling by 47.5%.
Circulation, vol 90, 2877-2885, 1994. J.S. Wang, et al.
Strenuous exercise may sensitize platelet adhesiveness and aggregability in both healthy patients and those with stable angina. Moderate exercise, in contrast, supresses significantly those platelet functions and pay protect from the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
The Harvard Health Letter(21:11, 1996) reports a study in the May 1996 Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, showing that the slow and precise movements of Tai Chi Chuan improved the balance of seniors.
The University of California, Berkeley, Wellness Letter, 1998, cites the benefits of the "smooth, balanced, and low-impact" exercise to health.
The CIGNA newsletter, Wellbeing, winter, 1998, advises that Tai Chi Chuan has been shown to increase immunity, reduce stress, alleviate gastric problems, hypertension, and other ailments.
The Harvard Woman's Health Watch, Dec 2000, article, "Tai Chi: Meditative movement for Health" cites the benefits for women, and lists Master William C.C. Chen'svideo's as a selected Woman's Health Watch resource.
The Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 2001; 23:139-146, documents improvements over a 6 month period in physical functions in daily and more strenuous activities.
Br. J. Sports Med 2001; 35:148-156 Li, Hong, and Chan Tcc is a moderate intensity exercise that is beneficial to cardiorespiratory function, immune capacity, mental control, flexibility, and balance control.
Journ. Altern. Complement. Med 2003, Oct, 9,(5):747-754 Tsai JC, Wang WH, Chan P, et al.
The Beneficial Effects of Tai Chi Chuan on Blood Pressure and Lipid Profile and Anxiety Status in a Randomized Controlled Trial found were a decrease of 15.6 mm Hg Systolic and 8.8 Diastolic pressure, decrease of total serum cholesterol of 15.2 mg/dL, with increased HDL and decreased LDL, as well as decreased measures of anxiety.
The Archives of Internal Medicine, Mar 8 2004, report many benefits to heart, circular system, and joint problems, as well as other chronic health conditions. The study was done by
Wang Chenchen, MD, at Tufts-New England Medical Center, Boston, Mass.
AARP Bulletin for May, 2004
recommends the benefits of Tai Chi Chuan for its readers.
International Journal of Diabetes in Developing Countries, vol 25:105-109, 2005
. V. Ambarish, et al. After 1 month of regular moderate exercise Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha shows a fall below baseline levels; not so with regular strenuous exercise. Regular moderate exercise has a beneficial effect on helath by way of keeping this cytokine at low levels.
BRITISH JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE , 2006; 40 239-243. S-H YEH, et al. Regular tai chi chuan exercise over 12 weeks increased functional mobility of middle aged participants, and increased the ratio of T helper cells to supressor cells, while increasing growth factor beta and interleuckin 10 under antigen stimulation.
Japanese Journal of Physical Fitness and Sports Medicine 55: 99-102 2006 Kawano Ichiro et al. "Electromyographic (EMG) Analysis of Tai Chi" EMG characteristics of various leg muscles were compared from Tai Chi Chuan to bicycling and jogging, and found to exceed muscle activities in the other exercises. Tai Chi Chuan could be a useful strength building exercise.
DIABETES CARE 30:716-718 2007. S-H YEH, et al. Regular Tai Chi Chuan exercise can imrove glucose metabolism, and benefit immune regulatory function in type 2 diabetic patients.
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH study reported in the New york Times, April 17, 2007, shows that tai chi practice improves immunity to the shingles virus; also, practitioners had better response to the vaccine.
A STUDY AT UCLA Oct 22, 2007, shows tai chi practice reduces headache pain, and improves perceived energy, emotional well-being, and social functioning.
JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE, 2007(31):8324-8333 The Neurochemically Diverse Intermedius Nucleus of the Medulla as a Source of Excitory and Inhibitory Synaptic Output to the Nucleus Tractis Solitarius. I.J. Edwards, et. al. Pathways have been found showing that neck flexion and tension can increase respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure. This occurs in the connection between the spinal cord ant the nucleus tractus solitarius of the brain stem.
A study published in INTERNAL MEDICINE , and summarized at www.internalmedicinenews.com, Feb 2, 2008, was conducted by Dr Ruth Taylor-Piliae. In addition to improvement in balance, this is the first study to document improvement in cognitive function in comparison to the control group performing western-style exercise.
British Medical Journal Apr 2, 2008 - Tai Chi exercisees imporves type 2 diabetes control and T cell helper function; a benefit of regular moderate exercise over strenuous exercise. See Sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080331220843.htm
Recent articles have appeared demonstrating the benefits of tai chi chuan for arthritis. Here are some sites:
This article reviews several clinical studies that demonstrate benefits in improved range of motion, cardiovascular wellness, oxygen uptake and motor control.
SOME HEALTHY IDEAS FROM TAI CHI CHUAN
Even if you don't have the time to practice Tai Chi Chuan, or Tai Chi Chi Gung, here are some simple exercises that can make a difference in your life.
ABDOMINAL BREATHING : Relax. Stand or sit in a fairly straight chair. To shift your breathing from upper chest to lower abdomen, place the hands a few inches below the navel. Breathe slowly so that the area under the hands expands against a slight pressure exerted by the hands on the lower abdomen. Relax, and the air slowly exhales. Repeat with inhalation, etc. Do this for five minutes to start with. This basic awareness and development of abdominal breathing is central to many meditative and martial arts. Reader's Digest for December 2000 featured an article about "belly breathing" and its benefits.
RELAX THE KNEES, HIPS, AND SHOULDERS : this releases a lot of stored tension, and allows you to focus on deep breathing, especially when standing.
ROCK THE FEET
: This is an excellent exercise if you sit for more than 30 minutes, especially in confined spaces, airplane seats, waiting rooms, etc. Stretch-out the legs, and stretch the toes down to the ground. Next, flex the toes upward creating a rolling motion over the heel. Breathe in as the toes go up; exhale as the toes go down. Repeat for several minutes. The AARP Bulletin for June 2004 has an artical about deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), and recommends exercising similarly to this toe stretch, heel-rock exercise. If you sit for half an hour, or longer, this could be a very beneficial practice.
Point of View : A nice example of how a frame of mind in a situation can affect an inner state of relaxation is related by Chuang Tzu in the story of The Empty Boat: If someone is rowing and bumps into a log, he pushes it aside, and continues on his way. If he bumps into an empty boat, he pushes it aside, or perhaps ties it securely somewhere out of the way. But if its a boat with people in it, he gets angry.
: Research by Dr Gene Cohen at George Washington University, and by others elsewhere, has been showing a relationship with creativity and thought to physical well-being and health. The sitewww.dispatch.co.za/2004/05/13/features
has a nice summary report about this kind of research. Make Tai Chi Chuan one of your creative activities!
TAKE A BREAK
...Sometimes you can feel that you're not where you would expect to be after practicing for a year or longer...take a break and let the mind relax. The story of looking for a fugitive while beating a drum (in Chuang Tzu) exemplifies the need to relax, and change perspective; or, as someone once said, "If things don't go right, take them left..." (Boy Kanahe, cited in The Hearts's Code, by Paul Pearsall).
Elizabeth Blackburn has been in the news recently for her research into telomeres, telomerase, and cellular longevity. Telomeres are the gene sequences at the ends of a chromosome: like the ferrule at the end of a shoelace, they keep the chromosomes from fraying with repeated duplications. As a cell ages, the telomeres in the nucleus become shorter.
Her team found that individuals with higher actual or perceived stress had shorter telomeres, and lower telomerase activity, which resulted in increased vulnerability to illness. Later studies by Epel found that in all six major known categories of risk factors for cardiovascular disease, a high correlation was found with low telomerase levels. Their research opens to view a process that brings the effects of emotional stress to internal responses in the cellular nucleus ...pretty fantastic!
A fascinating book to read is -
Elizabeth Blackburn and the Story of Telomeres, by Catherine Brady, 2007.
Also, telomeres and Elizabeth Blackburn were featured on a National Geographic PBS Special, "Killer Stress" seen on tv Sept 2008.