Study Suggests Tai Chi Prevents Shingles
Tai Chi is commonly used in many parts of the world as a low-impact exercise for older people. Researchers found older people who performed the slow, graceful movements of tai chi had a better immune response against the virus that causes shingles than those who only got health education, according to the most rigorous test to date.
The randomized, controlled clinical trial included 112 healthy adults ages 59 to 86 (average age of 70). Each person took part in a 16-week program of either Tai Chi or a health education program that provided 120 minutes of instruction weekly.
Tai Chi alone was found to increase participants? immunity to varicella as much as the vaccine typically produces in 30- to 40-year-old adults, and Tai Chi combined with the vaccine produced a significantly higher level of immunity, about a 40 percent increase, over that produced by the vaccine alone.
the Tai Chi group reported significant improvements in physical functioning, bodily pain, vitality and mental health. Both groups showed significant declines in the severity of depressive symptoms.
The results, said lead author Michael Irwin, the Norman Cousins Professor of Psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, confirm a positive, virus-specific immune response to a behavioral intervention.
The research was supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).