Patients suffering from chronic heart failure experience a better quality of life if they practise Tai Chi on a regular basis, a study has suggested.
The researchers wrote in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine: “Historically, patients with chronic systolic heart failure were considered too frail to exercise and, through the late 1980s, avoidance of physical activity was a standard recommendation.
“Preliminary evidence suggests that meditative exercise may have benefits for patients with chronic systolic heart failure; this has not been rigorously tested in a large clinical sample.”
Scientists from Harvard Medical School and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in the US conducted the study, which involved monitoring 100 patients with systolic heart failure.
The participants were randomly split in half, with one group taking part in 12 weeks of Tai Chi exercise, and the other undergoing education classes over the same period.
The two groups, which were made up of people who had similar rates of heart disease severity, both underwent two one-hour classes in their assigned subjects.
By the end of the 12 weeks those in the Tai Chi group had significantly more improved quality of life compared with the education group, despite similar results in their six-minute walk distance and peak oxygen uptake tests.
The authors wrote: “In conclusion, Tai Chi exercise, a multi-component mind-body training modality that is safe and has good rates of adherence, may provide value in improving daily exercise, quality of life, self-efficacy and mood in frail, deconditioned patients with systolic heart failure.
“A more restricted focus on traditional measured exercise capacity may underestimate the potential benefits of integrated interventions such as Tai Chi.”