Tai Chi: This "Chinese Secret" Lowered Blood Pressure in 85% of Trials
February 26, 2011
The 2,000-year-old Chinese practice of tai chi is a branch of Qigong -- exercises that harness the qi (life energy).
Tai chi has been linked to numerous health benefits, including improvements in the quality of life of breast cancer patients and Parkinson's sufferers. It has shown promise in treating sleep problems and high blood pressure.
A recent study found that tai chi promotes balance, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, and strength.
A group of research subjects who practiced tai chi improved more than 30 percent in lower-body strength and 25 percent in arm strength -- nearly as much as a weight-training group and more than people who took up walking as exercise.
According to U.S. News & World Report:
"... [I]n 85 percent of trials, tai chi lowered blood pressure. Other studies have shown it to reduce blood levels of B-type natriuretic peptide, a precursor of heart failure, and to maintain bone density in postmenopausal women."
In a similar vein, meditation is a known painkiller, and a new study has revealed why -- meditation changes the way your brain processes pain signals.
Researchers report that practicing mindfulness meditation for just four days affects pain responses in your brain. Brain activity decreases in areas devoted to monitoring a painful body part, and also in areas responsible for relaying sensory information.
Live Science reports:
"The practice known as mindfulness meditation involves sitting quietly and comfortably while breathing evenly. The idea is to clear the mind and focus the attention on the present."