From Deep in the annals of alternative health comes the meditative art from Chinese medicine. It is not really one of the ancient health secrets anymore, as most of us know it by name: tai chi. Researchers have found that tai chi may improve quality of life and mood in chronic heart failure patients.
Published in the “Archives of Internal Medicine,” the study found that, while tai chi offered no significant physical differences in patients who performed a short walk, those who engaged in the “mind/body” exercise exhibited significant improvements in mood. This is a big deal for those suffering chronic heart failure, which can severely curtail quality of life.
Score another one for Chinese medicine. Tai chi is a gentle exercise that consists of flowing circular movements, balance and weight shifting, breathing techniques and focused internal awareness. It is already linked to helping people with an assortment of health issues, such as high blood pressure, poor balance, diseases of muscles and bones, and joint pain conditions.
This new study says it is a safe and potentially better alternative to low-intensity exercise. Tai chi could help heart failure patients improve exercise levels, and boost quality of life, mental outlook, and the ability to take more control over their lives.
Chronic heart failure is the heart’s inability to supply enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, coughing, chronic venous congestion, ankle swelling, and exercise intolerance. Easy, practical exercise techniques may increase a patient’s quality of life.
The study included 100 U.S. patients, with those using tai chi being compared to those receiving only heart education training. Tai chi led to better oxygen uptake, the ability to perform six-minute walks, and significant improvements in mood.
It can’t be understated how important an elevated mood is to these patients. Patients who perceive themselves to have a better quality of life may indeed see more beneficial outcomes in their treatment. The researchers say that more studies should look at how tai chi benefits patients with heart disease, and how deep breathing, aerobic exercise and social interactions can have physiological outcomes in the body.