MONDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- The ancient Chinese exercise of Tai chi may improve quality of life for people suffering from heart failure, Harvard researchers report.
Tai chi combines flowing circular movements, balance and weight-shifting, breathing techniques and focused internal awareness. It has already been shown to be helpful with a number of medical conditions, including hypertension (high blood pressure), balance and musculoskeletal diseases, and fibromyalgia, the researchers noted.
"Tai chi training improved important parameters of quality of life, mood and confidence to perform exercise in patients with heart failure," said lead researcher Dr. Gloria Yeh, from the division of general medicine and primary care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
"Maintaining an exercise regimen is important in heart failure, and Tai chi may be a suitable alternative or adjunct exercise for these patients," she said.
Tai chi incorporates low/moderate intensity aerobics with strength training, breathing techniques, relaxation and stress management, Yeh explained.
The report was published in the April 25 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
For the study, Yeh's team randomly assigned 100 heart failure patients to a 12-week Tai chi program or to educational sessions about heart failure.
The researchers found that although both groups had similar oxygen use during six-minute walks, those who practiced Tai chi showed greater improvements in quality of life, which was measured using the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire.
In addition, those taking part in Tai chi also showed improvement in mood and improvement in the number of calories burned each week, compared with those in the education program, the researchers added.
People with chronic heart fa
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