Tai Chi Shows Potential to Alleviate Parkinson’s Symptoms Over Extended Periods, Study Suggests

According to a Chinese study, engaging in tai chi might aid in slowing down the progression of Parkinson’s disease symptoms for a considerable duration.

The research reveals that individuals who practiced this martial art twice weekly experienced fewer complications and an enhanced quality of life compared to those who didn’t participate in tai chi, claim the researchers.

Parkinson’s is a degenerative brain condition resulting in tremors and reduced movement, and currently, there is no cure for this disease.

Experts note that these findings reinforce prior studies emphasizing the advantages of exercise for individuals dealing with Parkinson’s.

Conducted by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, the study closely monitored the health of numerous Parkinson’s patients for up to five years.

Among the participants, 147 individuals engaged in regular tai chi sessions, while the other group of 187 did not.

Tai chi, a traditional Chinese practice, involves slow, gentle movements coupled with deep breathing and relaxation techniques.

Parkinson’s UK characterizes tai chi as a low-intensity physical activity that can positively impact mood and overall well-being.

The research indicated that in the group practicing tai chi, the disease’s progression was notably slower, evidenced by improvements in symptoms, movement, and balance.

Furthermore, this group reported fewer falls, reduced back pain and dizziness, along with lower instances of memory and concentration issues compared to the non-participating group.

Concurrently, sleep quality and overall life satisfaction exhibited continuous enhancement over the course of the study.

Additionally, a previous trial on individuals with Parkinson’s engaging in tai chi for six months demonstrated more significant enhancements in walking, posture, and balance compared to those not participating in the program.

In their report published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, Dr. Gen Li and collaborators emphasized that their study showcased “the sustained long-term positive effects of tai chi on Parkinson’s disease.”

The researchers suggest that tai chi might be used for long-term Parkinson’s management, contributing to an extended quality of life while maintaining patient activity levels.

However, they acknowledge that the study, while encouraging, was relatively small and couldn’t explicitly confirm that tai chi was the sole cause behind the positive outcomes observed in the group practicing it.

Prof. K Ray Chaudhuri, a professor specializing in movement disorders and neurology at King’s College London, noted that while the results demonstrated impressive impacts on both motor and non-motor functions, claiming neuroprotection based solely on this study might be premature.

He highlighted that similar positive effects on Parkinson’s have also been observed in activities like ballet.

Prof. Alastair Noyce, a professor in neurology and neuroepidemiology at Queen Mary University of London, recognized the significance of the study but stressed the need for further trials to comprehend which forms of exercise might be most beneficial in enhancing the long-term care of Parkinson’s patients.

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