By ANGELA HAUPT
April 26, 2011
Study: Tai Chi Improves Mood and Quality of Life for Heart Failure Patients
The ancient Chinese exercise tai chi—which blends moderate-intensity aerobics with strength training, breathing techniques, and stress management—could boost heart patients' quality of life. Researchers split 100 patients with heart failure into two groups: Half participated in a 12-week tai chi program, while the others spent 12 weeks in an educational program learning about heart-related issues, like low-sodium diets and heart-rhythm problems. At the end of the study, the tai chi group reported improvements in mood, less depression, less fatigue, and more energy than the others—and those in the first group were more likely to continue with some type of physical activity, according to findings published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine. "Maintaining an exercise regimen is important in heart failure," study author Gloria Yeh of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center told HealthDay. "Tai chi may be a suitable alternative or adjunct exercise for these patients."
The gentle, 2,000-year-old Chinese practice of tai chi is often described as "meditation in motion." But the Harvard Women's Health Watch newsletter suggests a more apt description is "medication in motion."
Tai chi, the most famous branch of Qigong, or exercises that harness the qi (life energy, pronounced "chee"), has been linked to health benefits for virtually everyone from children to seniors. Researchers aren't sure exactly how, but studies show that tai chi improves the quality of life for breast cancer patients and Parkinson's sufferers. Its combination of martial arts movements and deep breathing can be adapted even for people in wheelchairs. And it has shown promise in treating sleep problems and high blood pressure.
Years ago in high school, I walked my girlfriend to class. It was a normal day except for something that enfolded right before my eyes. I saw this bully approach a smaller boy, smaller in stature, quiet and unassuming; his victim. The bigger boy backed by five other tough guys asked the little boy for a quarter. The smaller boy attempted to comply by first opening up his locker and placing his books in it. The bigger boy kept on hounding him to hurry up, classes were about to start. Several teachers witnessed this event but did nothing. It was well documented that these thugs had a reputation of violence and some had criminal records. So when the little man began pulling money from his pocket the bully slams a fist on the boy’s jaw knocking him down. The frenzy began; his partners hoot and hollered, screaming and laughing, encouraging him on to finish the job which the bully gladly obliged by throwing punch after punch.