Among the many benefits that have been associated with the practice of Tai Chi, one of the most widely beneficial is the ability of this form of exercise to help lower blood pressure. Many people have a problem with high blood pressure, whether it has reached the levels at which it has begun to cause serious medical problems, or is still just a developing problem that has the potential to result in serious complications in the future. Keeping your blood pressure down through a healthy diet and plenty of exercise can help you avoid serious cardiovascular problems.
Scientific evidence is accumulating that suggests Tai Chi can be an excellent form of exercise for reducing blood pressure and that it can even help people who have previously suffered from cardiovascular disease. Tai Chi in its gentlest forms can be an effective form of exercise even for those who are at most risk of heart problems and high blood pressure, including people who are unfit or overweight, and it can even help people who are recovering from heart surgery.
The importance of exercise for cardiovascular health and the management of blood pressure is well-known. Keeping active can help reduce the chances of developing heart problems or high blood pressure. Tai Chi can be an effective way for people who are at risk of high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease to enjoy some physical activity, but it also offers the additional benefits of stress relief and relaxations, which can be just as important in the management of these conditions. Researchers have found that people with mild hypertension experienced significant decreases in their blood pressure following two to three months of Tai Chi or similar relaxation techniques. (Web MD)
A 2008 systematic review of scientific studies examining the effects of Tai Chi on blood pressure discovered that 22 of the 26 studies found that practicing Tai Chi produced a significant reduction in blood pressure. (Yeh 2008)
Tai Chi has also been found to be beneficial for people who have already suffered the effects of high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease. Tai Chi has been found to provide an effective option as a cardiovascular risk management program for patients who have been affected by coronary artery disease, even when compliance with other forms of exercise programs is low. (Park 2010) It has also proven to be an effective form of physical activity as part of a rehabilitation program for patients affected by other heart related conditions, resulting in reductions in blood pressure and improvements in a range of other aspects of health. (Taylor-Piliae 2003)
Finding a form of exercise that can help in the management of high blood pressure and which is suitable for anyone, even the people who are at the highest risk of cardiovascular disease, could play an important role in keeping the population healthier for longer. Tai Chi may offer the ideal solution to the increasing prevalence of high blood pressure and the associated cardiovascular disease in many parts of the world.
Web MD: Complementary and Alternative Treatments for High Blood Pressure. http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/hypertension-complementary-alternative-treatments. Accessed on 18/01/2011
Park, S. Song, R. Oh, KO. So, HY. Kim, DS. Kim, JI. Kim, TS. Kim, HL. Ahn, SH. (2010) Managing cardiovascular risks with Tai Chi in people with coronary artery disease. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 66(2):282-292. Available online at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2648.2009.05134.x/full Accessed 18/01/2011
Taylor-Piliae, R. (2003) Tai Chi as an Adjunct to Cardiac Rehabilitation Exercise Training March/ April 23(2):90-96. Available online at: http://journals.lww.com/jcrjournal/Abstract/2003/03000/Tai_Chi_as_an_Adjunct_to_Cardiac_Rehabilitation.4.as
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Yeh, GY. Wang, C. Wayne, PM. Phillips, RS. (2008) The effect of tai chi exercise on blood pressure: a systematic review. Prev Cardiol 11(2):82-9 Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18401235 Accessed 18/01/2011