Health

Tai Chi 'could be prescribed' for illnesses

  • 18 September 2015
  • From the section Health
Tai Chi Image copyright SPL
Image caption Tai Chi: Gentle flowing movements boost balance, posture and muscle power

Tai Chi is a suitable exercise for older people with conditions like arthritis, a study has found.

The ancient Chinese art improves physical performance and enhances quality of life, say researchers.

Tai Chi combines deep breathing and relaxation with slow and gentle movements.

The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, suggests the exercise helps with pain and stiffness in arthritis.

It can also help improve quality of life in the lung condition, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

And it may have some physical benefits for people with breast cancer or heart failure, according to researchers from the University of British Colombia, Vancouver.

In the future, it might even be possible to consider prescribing Tai Chi for patients with several illnesses, they said.

"Our findings support the results of a previous systematic review that showed the effectiveness of Tai Chi on health outcomes in older patients with chronic conditions," Dr Yi-Wen Chen and colleagues wrote in their research paper.

"Tai Chi can improve some physical performance outcomes in four chronic conditions (cancer, osteoarthritis, heart failure and COPD) but not at the expense of worsening pain or dyspnoea (breathlessness)."

The data comes from a review of more than 30 studies looking at the health benefits of the exercise.

Past research has found that Tai Chi may reduce the risk of falls among older adults who are at increased risk.

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