The ancient martial art of Tai Chi improves the heart and muscles of elderly

Tai Chi, arterial compliance, and muscle strength in older adults. Background: Aerobic exercise can alleviate the declines in arterial compliance common in older adults. However, when combined with strength training, aerobic exercise may not reduce arterial compliance. Tai Chi practice has been found to improve muscle strength and cardiopulmonary function in older subjects, but whether or not it improves arterial compliance is not known. The primary aim of this study was to investigate whether Tai Chi practitioners have better arterial compliance and muscle strength. Design: Twenty-nine older Tai Chi practitioners (73.7 ± 4.5 years) and 36 healthy control subjects (71.4 ± 6.6 years) participated in this cross-sectional study. Methods: The participants were independent in their daily living activities. They were screened for apparent cardiovascular disease and underwent arterial compliance testing and isokinetic knee muscle strength testing at 30°/s. Results: Tai Chi practitioners showed significantly better haemodynamic parameters than the controls as indexed by larger and small artery compliance. They also demonstrated greater eccentric muscle strength in both knee extensors and flexors. Conclusion: The findings of better muscle strength without jeopardizing arterial compliance suggests that Tai Chi could be a suitable exercise for older persons to improve both cardiovascular

function and muscle strength. –  Dr. William WN Tsang. Assistant Adjunct Professor, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Polytechnic University, China. Research Interests: Muscle strength measurement. Ligamentous injuries and rehabilitation. Exercise science of Tai Chi, Qigong and golfing. Balance control and Tai Chi. Balance control and sports. Eye-hand coordination. Biography: Dr. Tsang has extensive clinical experience in various sectors of physiotherapy service. Before joining the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, he served the older adults in a geriatric day hospital. Dr. Tsang is now the subject leader of the Generic Anatomy in the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, and the subject leader of Functional Anatomy of the BSc Physiotherapy and BSc Occupational Therapy programs, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He serves as practical examiner in the Physiotherapy Board, Hong Kong. He has publications on muscle strength in natural physiological movement, biomechanical studies of the knee ligaments, balance control and exercise science of Oriental exercises, Tai Chi and Qigong, and Western exercise, golfing. Dr. Tsang’s current research interest is eye-hand coordination with a concurrent postural control task, which he studies in elite basketball players, stroke survivors and frail older adults. Sources: European Journal of Preventive Cardiology  &  The Hong Kong Polytechnic University,China

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