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Tai Chi Practice Boosts Immunity in Seniors

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The gentle art of Tai chi chih, a form of the martial art developed in China over 2000 years ago, is known to improve balance, flexibility, strength and coordination and is very accessible to seniors and people who may be overweight or arthritic. The regular practice of Tai Chi has also been linked with low blood pressure, better sleep and stress reduction.

 A new study conducted by Michaell Irwin, MD, the Norman Cousins Professor of Psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA, showed that the regular practice of the series of 20 postures boosted the immune systems of older adults against the virus that leads to shingles as well as a standard vaccine. And when combined with the vaccine, those seniors practicing Tai chi had immunity levels normally seen in middle age

Shingles results in a painful, blistery rash caused by the same virus that gave us chicken-pox as kids. The virus stays in our systems and as our immune systems decline with age, as many as one-third of adults over 60 will succumb to the virus again in the form of shingles, which can range from mild irritation to major impairment.

The  25-week study was conducted with  112 adults aged 59-86. Half took tai chi classes three times a week for 16 weeks, while the other half attended health education classes. After 16 weeks both groups received a dose of a shingles vaccine. At the end of the 25 weeks, the tai chi group had a level of immunity twice as great as the health education group.  As an added bonus, the tai chi group also improved physically and showed increased vitality, mental health and reduced pain.

Tai chi (pronounced “Tie Chee”) is easy to learn and is available in many community and senior centers in the United States.

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3 responses to “Tai Chi Practice Boosts Immunity in Seniors”

  1. […] of Psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA, showed that the regular practice of Tai chi boosted the immune systems of older adults against the virus that leads to shingles as well as a standard vaccine. As an added bonus, the tai […]