Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi. Conventional medical science on the Chinese art of Tai Chi now shows what Tai Chi masters have known for centuries: regular practice leads to more vigor and flexibility, better balance and mobility, and a sense of well-being. Cutting-edge research from Harvard Medical School also supports the long-standing claims that Tai Chi also has a beneficial impact on the health of the heart, bones, nerves and muscles, immune system, and the mind. This research provides fascinating insight into the underlying physiological mechanisms that explain how Tai Chi actually works. Besides presenting the science behind Tai Chi, this book is a great introduction to Tai Chi.
Harvard Medical School's Harvard Health Publications calls Tai Chi "medication in motion." The health benefits of tai chi explains how Tai Chi when combined with standard treatment is helpful for a range of conditions including arthritis, low bone density, breast cancer, heart disease, heart failure, hypertension, Parkinson's disease, sleep problems, and stroke. Also see Easing Ills through Tai Chi in the Harvard Magazine.
How does tai chi influence the body and mind? Dr. Anthony Komaroff of Harvard Medical School recently responded to a reader question about tai chi, and reflected on Peter Wayne's book (Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi ) as an introduction and guide to the world of tai chi.
What are the health benefits of tai chi? Dr. Anthony Komaroff, Harvard Medical School, answers the following question: "I’m getting older and need to find a new way to keep fit. I’ve heard that tai chi might be a good option. Can you tell me more about it and its health benefits?".
Study suggests tai chi improves life for people with chronic health problems. Harvard Health Publications. An analysis of 33 studies indicates that Tai Chi is more effective than other forms of exercise in improving quality of life for people with chronic conditions.
For over 50 years, scientists at the Institute for Aging Research, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, have been studying what causes falls among the elderly, and how to prevent them. According to researchers, one of the most promising interventions is Tai chi, the ancient Chinese martial art, also known as “meditation in motion.” It offers senior practitioners inner peace, and improves balance, flexibility, and mental agility. It also reduces falls, the largest preventable cause of death and injury among older adults.
NPR Coverage: Tai Chi Exercise for Parkinson’s Disease. Harvard Medical School Osher Center Research Director, Dr. Peter Wayne described on air, how tai chi can help improve balance and strength in older adults, and benefit individuals suffering from the disease.
Tai Chi helps ease chronic pain. Tai Chi can benefit people with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, tension headache, and other ongoing, painful conditions. The results of one study of a Harvard study on Tai Chi for fibromyalgia were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Harvard Medical School says regular meditation is more beneficial than vacation. As mindfulness meditation and yoga have become mainstream and more extensively studied, growing evidence suggests multiple psychological and physical benefits of these mindfulness exercises, as well as for similar practices like tai chi and qi gong. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses analyzing hundreds of research studies suggest that mindfulness-based interventions help decrease anxiety, depression, stress, and pain, and help improve general health, mental health, and quality of life. These practices also appear to reduce inflammation and increase immune response.
Mindfulness meditation may ease anxiety, mental stress. Harvard Health Blog.
Systematic review finds the use of MBSR and MBCT alleviate symptoms, both mental and physical, in the treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, depression, anxiety disorders and in prevention in healthy adults and children.
When researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD sifted through nearly 19,000 meditation studies, they found 47 trials that addressed those issues and met their criteria for well-designed studies. Their findings, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest that mindfulness meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain.
Relax - it's good for you. Researchers at Harvard Medical School completed a comprehensive scientific study showing that deep relaxation changes our bodies on a genetic level. What they discovered is that, in long-term practitioners of relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation, far more ''disease-fighting genes'' were active, compared to those who practised no form of relaxation. The research is pivotal because it shows how a person's state of mind affects the body on a physical and genetic level.
Meditation Might Reduce Stress and Enhance Health. A short video (9:48) introduction to the history of meditation and its integration into medical research and clinical practice by Anne Harrington, Professor for the History of Science in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University.
Harvard Yoga Scientists Find Proof of Meditation Benefit. Unlike earlier studies, this one is the first to focus on participants with high levels of stress. The study published in May in the medical journal PloS One showed that one session of relaxation-response practice (i.e. the meditation component of qigong or yoga) was enough to enhance the expression of genes involved in energy metabolism and insulin secretion and reduce expression of genes linked to inflammatory response and stress. There was an effect even among novices who had never practiced before.
Meditation offers significant heart benefits. Meditation can be a useful part of cardiovascular risk reduction. It appears to produce changes in brain activity that can lead to less sympathetic nerve outflow from the brain to the rest of the body. It also can lower heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, adrenaline levels, and levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress. There are many types of meditation that can result in physiological benefits, such as guided meditation, transcendental meditation, and mindfulness meditation. It takes at least 10 minutes of meditation per day to get the physiological benefits.
What meditation can do for your mind, mood, and health. Meditation is an effective way to reduce stress, anxiety, pain, and depression. There are many different forms of meditation, including transcendental and mindfulness. Women are encouraged to experiment until they find the meditation form most effective for them.
Eight weeks to a better brain. Participating in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. In a study that will appear in the Jan. 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a team led by Harvard-affiliated researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) reported the results of their study, the first to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain’s gray matter. “Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” says study senior author Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology. “This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”
Harvard Team Finds 43% Reduction in Use of Health Care Services via Mind-Body Intervention. The study reveals how mind-body medicine could cut health care costs. The understated title of the open access article at PLoS from a Harvard University–Benson-Henry Institute mind-body team is “Relaxation Response and Resiliency Training and Its Effect on Healthcare Resource Utilization.” Note that "relaxation response" is an intrinsic benefit of Qigong practice. The team examined service use of more than 4000 patients in the Relaxation Response Resiliency Program (3RP) and compared them with an usual care cohort. The findings: “At one year, total utilization for the intervention group decreased by 43%, clinical encounters decreased by 41.9%, imaging by 50.3%, lab encounters by 43.5%, and procedures by 21.4%.” Measured by dollar, reduction was estimated as “on the order of $2360/patient/year.”
Tai Chi for Health: Current State of the Research and Challenges Ahead (YouTube 1:09:50). On, April 11, 2013 researchers from across Harvard Medical School came together to share the cutting edge research that is happening relating to Tai Chi. This special edition of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine's Research Seminar Series was held in honor of World Tai Chi day.
Easing Ills through Tai Chi. Research has found that doing meditative exercises like Tai Chi can affect the brain’s structure and function. Due to your brain’s plasticity, you may be able to improve your cognitive function and offset age-related decline through exercise, stress reduction, learning new tasks, staying socially active, and learning how to focus better – all integral elements of Tai Chi training. Studies have shown that Tai Chi leads to greater improvements in cognitive function, including attention, concentration, and mental tracking, as well as balance. Recent Tai Chi studies suggest that the benefits of exercise on cognitive function are not solely due to cardiovascular fitness, but also to motor fitness, which includes balance, speed, coordination, agility and power.
The slow, flowing motions of tai chi train you to shift your weight while maintaining your balance.Tai chi is an ancient Chinese exercise that can help older adults improve their balance and lower their fall risk. And by reducing their risk of falls, seniors can lower their odds of suffering a debilitating fracture. “In just 12 weeks, I’ve seen people improve their balance and stability and walk faster and farther,” says Stanwood Chang, a tai chi instructor at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, part of Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.