AsianScientist (Mar. 17, 2016) – According to a study by researchers in China, traditional Chinese exercises such as Tai Chi may improve the health and well-being of those living with heart disease, high blood pressure or stroke. The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
“Traditional Chinese exercises are a low-risk, promising intervention that could be helpful in improving quality of life in patients with cardiovascular diseases—the leading cause of disability and death in the world,” said study co-author Professor Yu Liu, dean of the School of Kinesiology, at the Shanghai University of Sport in China.
“But the physical and psychological benefits to these patients of this increasingly popular form of exercise must be determined based on scientific evidence.”
The research team reviewed 35 studies, including almost 2,300 participants from ten countries. They found, among participants with cardiovascular disease, Chinese exercises helped reduce systolic blood pressure by more than 9.12 mm/Hg and diastolic blood pressure by more than 5 mm/Hg on average.
They also found small but statistically significant drops in the levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or ‘bad’ cholesterol, and triglycerides. Chinese exercises also seemed to improve quality of life and reduce depression in patients with cardiovascular disease.
However, traditional Chinese exercises did not significantly improve participants’ heart rate, aerobic fitness level or scores on a general health questionnaire.
The review only analyzed studies which randomly assigned participants to groups performing traditional Chinese exercises, most commonly Tai Chi, Qigong and Baduanjin; engaging in another form of exercise; or making no change in activity level.
The researchers note that although their review provided a good overview of the impact of traditional Chinese exercises on cardiovascular risk factors, there were several limitations. Inclusion criteria varied across studies; participants were followed for a year or less; traditional Chinese exercises take many different forms and most results were evaluated by study leaders who knew which group participants had been assigned to, potentially introducing bias to the results.
As such, in future, Liu and his team plan to conduct new randomized controlled trials to confirm the effect of different types of traditional Chinese exercises on chronic diseases.
The article can be found at: Wang et al. (2016) Traditional Chinese Exercise for Cardiovascular Diseases: Systematic Review and Meta‐Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.
Source: American Heart Association; Photo: Brian Robinson/Flickr/CC.
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