Tai Chi Benefits Systolic Heart Failure Patients
New studies show that tai chi, a form of ancient Chinese exercise that incorporates slow, gentle movements, can improve the mood and health of people with heart failure.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School followed 100 outpatients with reduced heart-pumping function (‘systolic heart failure’) and put them in two random groups of 50. Once group participated in a 12-week tai chi fitness program, while the other group took part in education sessions for the same amount of time. Both groups attended their respective sessions biweekly and had similar demographics, heart disease severity and rates of other medical conditions.
The study revealed that the people practicing tai chi showed greater improvements in their quality of life—increased confidence to perform different forms of exercise, daily activity levels and feelings of well-being—compared to those in the education sessions.
In the past, patients with systolic heart failure were considered too weak to exercise, and were even advised to avoid physical activity all together. Due to the nature of tai chi and its ability to decrease anxiety, improve mood and increase energy, this type of exercise has proven itself beneficial. It may also benefit people with other health conditions including hypertension, balance problems and inability to perform high-intensity exercise.