cardiovascular benefits and Tai Chi & qigong


Research has shown that the extremely gentle low impact T'ai Chi exercise can provide the same cardiovascular benefit as moderate impact aerobic exercise. The Harvard Women's Health Watch reported, "studies support Tai Chi [use] for heart-attack and cardiac-bypass patients, to improve cardiorespiratory function and reduce blood pressure."

Why Tai Chi is as Good for You as CrossFit Training!
-- Time Magazine, April 28, 2017

Tai Chi Benefits Your Heart
Several types of gentle Chinese exercise have been found to lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels

A total of 29 studies met inclusion criteria, including 9 randomized controlled trials, 14 nonrandomized studies, and 6 observational trials. The study subjects included patients with coronary heart disease, heart failure, CVD, and CVDRF (hypertension, dyslipidemia, impaired glucose metabolism). Tai Chi interventions ranged from 8 weeks to 3 years, and the sample size ranged from 5 to 207. Most studies reported improvement with Tai Chi intervention, such as reduction in blood pressure and increase in exercise capacity. In addition, no adverse effects were reported. The authors concluded that Tai Chi may be a beneficial adjunctive therapy for patients with CVD and CVDRF.- Medscape Today, from WebMD, 10/26/2010

The Tai Chi group showed 19% higher peak oxygen uptake in comparison with their sedentary counterparts. In addition, the Tai Chi practitioners had greater flexibility and lower percentage of body fat in comparison with their sedentary counterparts.
-- Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 77(6), 612-616

Tai Chi was observed to be equally effective as aerobic exercise in reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
A growing body of evidence suggests Tai Chi practice, even over short periods of time, may improve cardiovascular health. Depending on how it is practiced, Tai Chi has been characterized as a low to moderate intensity exercise. Three studies are briefly discussed to illustrate the types of evidence available to evaluate the impact that Tai Chi may have on components of cardiovascular health. Young et al. [4] conducted a well designed, randomized controlled trial with 62 subjects that compared the effects of aerobic exercise versus Tai Chi on blood pressure in mildly hypertensive older adults. Over the 12-week study period, Tai Chi was observed to be equally effective as aerobic exercise in reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
-- Tufts University's website

Harvard Health Publications
Heart disease. A 53-person study at National Taiwan University found that a year of tai chi significantly boosted exercise capacity, lowered blood pressure, and improved levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, and C-reactive protein in people at high risk for heart disease. The study, which was published in the September 2008 Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found no improvement in a control group that did not practice tai chi.

Heart failure. In a 30-person pilot study at Harvard Medical School, 12 weeks of tai chi improved participants' ability to walk and quality of life. It also reduced blood levels of B-type natriuretic protein, an indicator of heart failure. A 150-patient controlled trial is under way.

Hypertension. In a review of 26 studies in English or Chinese published in Preventive Cardiology (Spring 2008), Dr. Yeh reported that in 85% of trials, tai chi lowered blood pressure — with improvements ranging from 3 to 32 mm Hg in systolic pressure and from 2 to 18 mm Hg in diastolic pressure.

Stroke. In 136 patients who'd had a stroke at least six months earlier, 12 weeks of tai chi improved standing balance more than a general exercise program that entailed breathing, stretching, and mobilizing muscles and joints involved in sitting and walking. Findings were published in the January 2009 issue of Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair.

Pulmonary Medicine:
Breathing. Studies have shown better respiratory function in Tai Chi practitioners compared to those who are sedentary. What's more, Tai Chi appears to slow the loss of respiratory function in older adults over time in studies up to five years long. (Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi. Page 172)

COPD (Projected to be the 3rd leading cause of death in US by 2020). Conventional pulmonary rehab. programs focus on aerobic exercise and strength training to improve exercise capacity, quality of life, and symptoms in patients with COPD. Tai Chi extends the breathing techniques taught in pulmonary rehab. by integrating novel elements, such as progressive relaxation, imagery/visualization, mindfulness of breathing and overall body sensations, postural training, and coordinated patterns of breathing and movement. These additional therapeutic elements make Tai Chi an effective adjunct to conventional rehabilitation.

Studies: A Harvard study showed that after 12 weeks the Tai Chi group felt significant improvement in chronic respiratory symptoms compared to the usual COPD care group. The Tai Chi group also had slight improvements in their six-minute walking distance, depression, and shortness of breath. Harvard is following up with a larger NIH funded study to compare a Tai Chi group to other meditative techniques, as well as to a non-exercise education program.

A larger Hong Kong study found a Tai Chi Qigong group improved key measures of respiratory function and participated in higher levels of activity when compared to a walking plus breathing exercise or usual care group. The Tai Chi group also reported greater improvements in respiratory health-related quality of life.

Research shows that Tai Chi-like exercises, including Qigong, may help sustain the gains COPD patients make after completing pulmonary rehabilitation, which often is lost after about six months. (Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi, pages 176 to 178.)
Read more at Harvard Health Publications ...

Information on Tai Chi as a Cardiac Rehabilitation Therapy in British Health System
Tai Chi 'can treat heart failure !
A US study of 30 patients found regular classes gave patients better movement and reduced BNP levels, a measure of heart failure.
A number of the patients attended twice weekly classes for 12 months while a second group had standard treatment.
The British Heart Foundation said the study was "excellent news" and Tai Chi could be adopted into treatment programmes in the UK in the future.
-- BBC News - Saturday, 9 October, 2004, 23:22 GMT 00:22

Tai Chi and Cardiovascular Benefits.
Cardiovascular benefits equal moderate impact aerobics & Tai Chi

Conclusion: The data substatiate that practicing T'ai Chi regularly may delay the decline of cardioresperatory function in older individuals. In addition, TC may be prescribed as a suitable aerobics exercise for older adults.
-- Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 1995, Volume 43, Issue 11, pages 1222-1227


1. Barrow D, Barrow R et al. Changes in haemodynamic parameters following Tai Chi Chuan and aerobic exercise in patients recovering from acute myocardial infarction. POSTGRAD MED J 1996;72:349-351. Complementary Medicine for the Physician, 4(7):52, 1999 Sep, 4(7), 52

2. Brown, D.D., Mucci, W.G., Hetzler, R.K., & Knowlton, R.G. (1989). Cardiovascular and ventilatory responses during formalized T'ai Chi Chuan exercise. Research Quarterly for Exercise & Sport, 60(3), 246-250.

3. Taylor-Piliae R E, Froelicher E S. Measurement properties of Tai Chi exercise self-efficacy among ethnic Chinese with coronary heart disease risk factors: a pilot study. Eur J Cardiovasc Nurs 2004; (3): 287-294.

4. Lan C, Chou S W, Chen S Y, Lai J S, Wong M K. The aerobic capacity and ventilatory efficiency during exercise in Qigong and Tai Chi Chuan practitioners. Am J Chin Med 2004; (32): 141-150.

5. Jong S Y, Fang Y Y, Chao Y F. [The effect of Tai-Chi-Qui-Gong exercises on patients' pulmonary function, exercise capacity, and quality of life after lobectomy.]. Hu Li Za Zhi 2004; (51): 46-54.

6. Ades P A, Wu G. Benefits of tai chi in chronic heart failure: body or mind? Am J Med 2004; (117): 611-612.

7. Channer, K.S., Barrow, D., Barrow, R., Osborne, M., & Ives, G. (1996). Changes in haemodynamic parameters following Tai Chi Chuan and aerobic exercise in patients recovering from acute myocardial infarction. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 72(848), 349-351.

8. Fontana, J.A. (2000). The energy costs of a modified form of T'ai Chi exercise [corrected] [published erratum appears in NURS RES 2000 May-Jun; 49(3): 145]. Nursing Research, 49(2):91-6, 2000 Mar-Apr, 49(19 ref), 91-96.

9. Lai, J.S., Lan, C., Wong, M.K., & Teng, S.H. (1995). Two-year trends in cardiorespiratory function among older Tai Chi Chuan practitioners and sedentary subjects. J Am Geriatr Soc JID - 7503062, 43(11), 1222-1227.

10. Lai, J.S., Wong, M.K., Lan, C., Chong, C.K., & Lien, I.N. (1993). Cardiorespiratory responses of Tai Chi Chuan practitioners and sedentary subjects during cycle ergometry. J Formos Med Assoc JID - 9214933, 92(10), 894-899.

11. Lan, C., Chen, S., Lai, J., & Wong, M. (1999). The effect of Tai Chi on cardiorespiratory function in patients with coronary artery bypass surgery. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 31(5):634-8, 1999 May, 31(29 ref), 634-638.

12. Lan, C., Chen, S., Lai, J., & Wong, M. (2001). Heart rate responses and oxygen consumption during Tai Chi Chuan practice. American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 29(3/4):403-10, 2001, 29(19 ref), 403-410.

13. Lan, C., Chen, S.Y., Lai, J.S., & Wong, M.K. (1902). Heart rate responses and oxygen consumption during Tai Chi Chuan practice. Am J Chin Med JID - 7901431, 29(3-4), 403-410.

14. Lan, C., Lai, J.S., Wong, M.K., & Yu, M.L. (1996). Cardiorespiratory function, flexibility, and body composition among geriatric Tai Chi Chuan practitioners. Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 77(6), 612-616.

15. Lee E N. [The effects of tai chi exercise program on blood pressure, total cholesterol and cortisol level in patients with essential hypertension.]. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi 2004; (34): 829-837.

16. Li, J.X., Hong, Y., & Chan, K.M. (2001). Tai chi: physiological characteristics and beneficial effects on health. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 35(3):148-56, 2001 Jun, 35(44 ref), 148-156.

17. Schneider, D., & Leung, R. (1991). Metabolic and cardiorespiratory responses to the performance of Wing Chun and T'ai Chi Chuan exercise. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 12(3), 319-323.

18. Vaananen, J., Xusheng, S., Wang, S., Laitinen, T., Pekkarinen, H., & Lansimies, E. (2002). Taichiquan acutely increases heart rate variability. Clin Physiol Funct Imaging JID - 101137604, 22(1), 2-3.

19. Wang, J.S., Lan, C., Chen, S.Y., & Wong, M.K. (2002). Tai Chi Chuan training is associated with enhanced endothelium-dependent dilation in skin vasculature of healthy older men. [see comments.]. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 50(6), 1024-1030.

20. Young, D.R., Appel, L.J., Jee, S., & Miller, E.R. (1999). The effects of aerobic exercise and T'ai Chi on blood pressure in older people: results of a randomized trial. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 47(3), 277-284.

21. Zhuo, D., Shephard, R.J., Plyley, M.J., & Davis, G.M. (1984). Cardiorespiratory and metabolic responses during Tai Chi Chuan exercise. Canadian Journal of Applied Sport Sciences - Journal Canadien des Sciences Appliquees au Sport, 9(1), 7-10.

22. Wang, J., Lan, C., & Wong, M. (2001). Tai Chi Chuan training to enhance microcirculatory function in healthy elderly men. Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 82(9):1176-80, 2001 Sep, 82(35 ref), 1176-1180.


1. Ackerman, S. (1999). Tai chi: an exercise alternative for cardiac rehab... commentary on Channer KS,

2. Fontana, J.A., Colella, C., Baas, L.S., & Ghazi, F. (2000). T'ai Chi Chih as an intervention for heart failure. [Review] [52 refs]. Nursing Clinics of North America, 35(4), 1031-1046.

3. Jeng, C., Chu, F.L., & Tsao, L.I. (2002). Empowering: the experiences of exercise among heart transplantation patients in Taiwan. J Adv Nurs JID - 7609811, 40(5), 560-567.

4. Kreitzer, M.J., & Snyder, M. (2002). Healing the heart: integrating complementary therapies and healing practices into the care of cardiovascular patients. Progress in Cardiovascular Nursing, 17(2):73-80, 2002 Spring, 17(36 ref), 73-80.

5. Luskin, F.M., Newell, K.A., Griffith, M., Holmes, M., Telles, S., Marvasti, F.F., Pelletier, K.R., & Haskell, W.L. (1998). A review of mind-body therapies in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Part 1: Implications for the elderly. [Review] [181 refs]. Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine, 4(3), 46-61.

6. Oz, M. (1999). Bypass surgery and Tai Chi. Newsweek, 134(24A Spec Ed):84-7, 1999 Dec-2000 Feb, 134(24A Spec Ed), 84-87.

7. Whyte, N. (1997). Tai Chi for clients in cardiac rehabilitation. Ot Practice, 2(10):38-41, 1997 Oct, 2(10 bib), 38-41.

Tai Chi and Cholesterol.
Cholesterol, Good, Bad, & Tai Chi
Tai Chi “could decrease blood pressure and results in favorable lipid profile changes and improve subjects' anxiety status. Therefore, Tai Chi could be used as an alternative modality in treating patients with mild hypertension, with a promising economic effect.”
-- Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine’s Oct. 9th issue reports a study:

Seeing Red Is Bad for Your Health – Chronic Anger
By Jeanie Lerche Davis WebMD Medical News
“. . . anger-associated hormones come from the adrenal gland, located on or near the kidneys. Researchers have theorized that chronic stimulation of the adrenal system results in higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels . . .

. . . The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for calming and for allowing the body to repair itself, says Mueller. Sleep represents a state of repair. Tai chi, yoga, and meditation have been documented to calm those "fight or flight" chemicals and promote healing.” [William H. Mueller, PhD, a behavioral epidemiologist and professor of behavioral sciences at the School of Public Health at the University of Texas in Houston.]


Since 1984, collecting breaking medical/science research on Qigong, Tai Chi, Yoga, and Mind-Body Education
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* NOTE: World Tai Chi & Qigong Day advises consulting your physician before beginning any new exercise, herbal, diet, or health program. The research listed here is meant to stimulate a discussion between you and your physician, health insurance carrier, etc., not as medical advise. Research and comments provided here are hoped to stimulate a more robust discussion of powerful natural mind/body health tools. Popular media, health media, and government must increase attention to stunning emerging research, including the UCLA study indicating Tai Chi participants enjoyed a 50% increase in immune system resistance to viral infection.



To learn more about tai chi & qigong medical research, see the below book,
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"Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi," and
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Dr. Michael Steward Sr., D.MA, Ph.D., MA, Senior Coach for Team USA, Inductee of the World Sports Medicine and World Martial Arts Hall of Fame

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– Sifu Yijiao Hong, USA All-Tai Chi Grand Champion and USA Team member; Certified International Coach and Judge, International Wushu Federation

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Harvard's Dr. Peter Wayne discusses Tai Chi, Qigong and Bio-Energy with Neuro-biologist, Dr. Richard Hammerschlag,


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A reflection of how successful the invasion has been is World Tai Chi Day, organized by Bill Douglas. One of the purposes of this day is ‘to bring together people across racial, economic, religious, and geo-political boundaries, to join together for the purpose of health and healing, providing an example to the world.' Millions of people around the world – 65 nations participated in 2011 – gather one day each year to celebrate the health and healing benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong.
— The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi (page 25)

Harvard Medical School Researchers Launch 'Tai Chi as Therapy' Lecture to Commemorate World Tai Chi Day


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