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Tai Chi Australia participates in Pilot Study of how Tai Chi delays cell ageing

Recently Tai Chi Australia participated in a pilot study organised by researchers at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute to establish how Tai Chi delays cell ageing. It is one of many studies in which we have participated.

It is well accepted that tai chi benefits people suffering from chronic conditions such as cardio vascular and acquired lung diseases, anxiety-hypertension, type 2 diabetes and arthritis as well as improving balance and digestion problems but it is not scientifically understood how the body’s mechanisms work when practicing tai chi and there are no known bio-markers to measure its value.

In Australia it is difficult to promote tai chi as a beneficial mind-body exercise that has useful and therapeutic values as there is no scientific proof.

This study included 237 females aged between 45 to 88 years old. About half were recruited from tai chi schools from Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia who had been practicing Yang style tai chi for between three and forty years, from between one and ten hours per week. The Control group consisted of participants who had never practiced tai chi or were beginners.

Before DNA testing each participant completed a questionnaire providing information about themselves: age as a continuous variable; demographic; tai chi practice; height and weight; smoking; medical history and present health condition and whether they took part in other forms of exercise. When asked why participants had begun tai chi there was a bias towards health benefits for hypertension and other specific health problems.

The observations by the researchers were interesting. The results showed that tai chi may delay the ageing of cell function throughout the body at any age but the research was still unable to understand why. It also showed that tai chi is thought to impact on the integrated improvement of well-being of an individual at several levels including physical, psychosocial, physiological, emotional, behavioral and spiritual.

The preliminary study suggests that a holistic intervention approach at fundamental level impacts directly on DNA changes and the molecular well being of cells.

It concluded that it would be informative to investigate other parameters including the tissue types of younger individuals, males, then effect of short term practice of tai chi, the styles of tai chi and the different methods of teaching tai chi. It also recommended that new and objective approaches be used to delineate biological mechanisms to understand the health and therapeutic value of tai chi.

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute were most appreciative of our involvement. Tai Chi Australia would like to thank everyone who participated in this Pilot Study.

The results were recently published in an article in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.