Research

December 02, 2020

What?! Tai Chi as good as Cross Fit...

This article appeared in the April  28, 2017 issue of TIME

The article compares the health benefits of Tai Chi to Cross Fit. Tai Chi consists of slow circular movements of low intensity. Can it really have the same health impact as Cross Fit. The research shows it does!

"Experts who have studied Tai Chi say its benefits are vast and hard to oversell."

"We've seen improved immunity to viruses and improved vaccine response among people who practice Tai Chi." Dr. Michael Irwin, professor of behavioral sciences, Director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA

He continues, "When compared to other strenuous exercise, over time, we see people who do Tai Chi achieve similar levels of fitness as those who walk or do other forms of physical therapy."

"Another review in PLOS One found that the practice may improve fitness and endurance of the heart and lungs, even for healthy adults."

This is because Tai Chi soothes the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system reducing stress.

The other unique aspect of Tai Chi over all other forms of exercise is the Mindfulness component. The practice "demands focus" "central to its meditative benefits." In this regard, it is even more powerful than Yoga.

September 25, 2016

Benefits of Tai Chi & QiGong

This article appeared in the Jan-Feb 2010 issue of Harvard Magazine.

"Kerr is careful to note that tai chi is “not a magic cure-all,” and that Western scientific understanding of its possible physiological benefits is still very rudimentary. Yet her own experience and exposure to research have convinced her that its benefits are very real—especially for older people too frail to engage in robust aerobic conditioning and for those suffering from impaired balance, joint stiffness, or poor kinesthetic awareness."

“Tai chi is a very interesting form of training because it combines a low-intensity aerobic exercise with a complex, learned, motor sequence. Meditation, motor learning, and attentional focus have all been shown in numerous studies to be associated with training-related changes—including, in some cases, changes in actual brain structure—in specific cortical regions.” 

"Qigong, sometimes called the “grammar” of tai chi, comprises countless different smaller movements and breathing exercises that are often incorporated into a tai chi practice. “One reason tai chi is popular is that it is adaptable and safe for people of all ages and stages of health,” Wayne points out. “Recent tai chi forms have even been developed for individuals to practice in wheelchairs. And although few formal medical-economic analyses have been conducted, tai chi appears to be relatively cost-effective.”

"The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has supported studies on the effect of tai chi on cardiovascular disease, fall prevention, bone health, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis of the knee, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic heart failure, cancer survivors, depression in older people, and symptoms of fibromyalgia."

June 03, 2016

Your Gut & Brain Are Talking To Each Other

A new study out of Oregon State University shows that both a high-fat and a high-sugar diet can cause changes in gut bacteria that appear related to a significant loss of "cognitive flexibility." "Cognitive flexibility" is the ability to adapt or adjust to changing situations.

What is interesting in this study is that it is not just a high-sugar diet that is affecting the gut microbiome, but also a high-fat diet. While the study doesn't indicate the type of fat - monounsaturated, polyunsaturated or saturated - any diet too high in fat can be considered detrimental to one's overall health and well-being.

""It's increasingly clear that our gut bacteria, or microbiota, can communicate with the human brain," said Kathy Magnusson, a professor in the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine and principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute."

""Bacteria can release compounds that act as neurotransmitters, stimulate sensory nerves or the immune system, and affect a wide range of biological functions," she said. "We're not sure just what messages are being sent, but we are tracking down the pathways and the effects.""

According to Magnusson, ""This work suggests that fat and sugar are altering your healthy bacterial systems, and that's one of the reasons those foods aren't good for you. It's not just the food that could be influencing your brain, but an interaction between the food and microbial changes.""

June 02, 2016

Is a Longer Life Just Around the Corner?

A research team out of the Spanish National Cancer Research Center in Madrid recently completed research on altering the telomeres without genetic manipulation. They used chimaeric mice and bred them to have hyper-long telomeres.

Telomeres are the caps on the ends of chromosomes. By increasing their length, the mice were able to live longer and healthier lives. The also showed less DNA damage as they aged.

"Chimaeric mice with hyper-long telomeres also accumulate fewer cells with short telomeres and less DNA damage with age."

"Telomeres protect chromosome ends from degradation and DNA repair activities and are essential for chromosome stability."

"When telomeres become critically short, they impair stem cell function and the regenerative capacity of tissues. At the molecular level, critically short telomeres trigger a persistent DNA damage response that leads to senescence (aging) or apoptosis (cell death). There is mounting genetic evidence supporting the notion that accumulation of critically short telomeres leads to ageing and ageing-associated diseases both in mice and humans."

"The accumulation of short telomeres with ageing is reduced in cells bearing hyper-long telomeres, which in turn results in lower accumulation of DNA damage in tissues with age. In addition, cells with hyper-long telomeres are maintained with ageing in highly proliferative compartments like blood, as well as are able to heal skin wounds faster than cells bearing normal length telomeres. These findings demonstrate that it is possible to modify the telomere length of a mammalian species in the absence of any genetic manipulation. This opens the possibility of altering the rate of accumulation of short telomeres with ageing in the absence of changes in telomerase expression."

Longevity and health appear to be related to the length and health of our telomeres. Perhaps, altering our own telomeres, repairing the damage and lengthening them is the key to our own longevity. Mindfulness, meditation, slowing the body through breath work and qigong, and balancing the body's energy with kinesiology are all beneficial for repairing DNA damage.

February 10, 2016

Tai Chi Slows Aging

Tai Chi and QiGong slowing aging and promoting longevity up until now has mostly been anecdotal. This recent study showed an increase in CD34+ stem cells in young adults who practiced Tai Chi for a year as compared to those who participated in just Brisk Walking and a control of No Exercise. Young adults between 19-25 were chosen to avoid other factors of chronic disease and medication.

 

The study showed a significant increase CD34+ in the Tai Chi vs. the No Exercise group. The Brisk Walking group showed an increase in CD34+ but the Tai Chi group showed more of an increase over the Brisk Walking group.

 

How it works

"The practice of Westernized Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) can induce drastic decreases in the sympathetic nervous system activity (SNS) as indexed by the preejection period (PEP) in healthy older adults. Therefore, it is possible that TCC may promp vasodilation and increase blood flow, which in turn enhances the production of CD34+ cells."

 

Short term (2 months) practice showed no effect. The effect was only realized in longer term practice of at least one year.

 

“Considering that BW [brisk walking] may require a larger space or more equipment, Tai Chi seems to be an easier and more convenient choice of anti-aging exercise.” Dr. Lin

 

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