Chinese exercises, such as Tai Chi, may help improve the health and quality of life of people with heart disease and high blood pressure, a new study has found.
Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese exercise that involves a series of gentle movements that are performed in a slow and focused manner. This is accompanied by deep breathing. It is a low impact exercise.
Chinese researchers assessed 35 studies involving almost 2,300 people in 10 different countries. All were monitored for up to one year.
The researchers found that among those with heart disease, these exercises led to a significant reduction in blood pressure.
There were also small but significant falls in levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood). High levels of both of these can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
The study also found that participants who undertook Chinese exercises appeared to have a better quality of life and less depression.
"Traditional Chinese exercises are a low-risk, promising intervention that could be helpful in improving quality of life in patients with cardiovascular diseases, which is the leading cause of disability and death in the world," said the study's co-author, Dr Yu Liu, of Shanghai University of Sport.