You probably have witnessed people performing martial-arts-like movements in a park. In reality, this is tai chi, a slow-motion exercise in which participants carry out a series of motions, most often named after animal actions. These movements are deliberately slow and follow a smooth pattern, almost as if they are a part of a specific form of dance. It is a process that involves deep breathing and meditation, both of which are effective stress-relievers.
Doctors at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), embarked on investigating how participation in tai chi would be favorable for breast cancer survivors. This was done in the light of previously tested data showing that women who suffered from breast cancer in the past 10 years are three times more likely to experience insomnia. In a large number of cases, this also leads to chronic inflammation, which can augment the risk of being diagnosed with cancer again, or may lead to heart complications.
From 2007 to 2013, medical experts evaluated the blood samples of 90 breast cancer patients, aged between 30 and 85, prior to and after they start practicing tai chi. When researchers studied the effects of tai chi for reducing inflammation, it was observed that the participants’ insomnia and, consequently, their inflammation improved appreciably, proving that martial arts could be implemented to improve the comfort level of breast cancer survivors.
The lead investigator of the research, Dr. Michael Irwin, further elaborated that people who practice tai chi have shown considerable decrease in the stress hormone system. Dr. Irwin and his team also observed reversed cellular inflammation by creating a down regulation of the genes that cause inflammation.
According to other studies, tai chi has been known for improving balance and proprioception, the capability to sense the location of one’s body in space, which declines as you age. Tai chi practices train this sense, which acts as a function of sensory neurons present in the inner ear and stretch receptors found in muscles and ligaments. Muscle strength is also enhanced with superior flexibility and makes it easier to recover from a fall. Tai chi also offers valuable aerobic benefits, relying on the speed and size of the movements.
The discovery of the efficiency of tai chi for reducing inflammation in breast cancer survivors has been positively greeted by medical researchers. It promises to trigger more useful discoveries related to the usefulness of tai chi for reducing inflammation and other health conditions.