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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Do you have diabetes? Do Tai chi!

Two pilot studies found that doing tai chi and/or qigong helped to lower blood sugar and reduce risks of type 2 diabetes. The studies were very small, including only 41 people combined.

The first study was done by the Chang Gung Memorial Hosptial in Taiwan and included 30 middle-aged and older adults who participated in an hour long tai chi class three times a week for twelve weeks. The study concluded that that tai chi helped lower long-term blood sugar levels in the participants.

In the second study, researchers from the University of Queensland used a specially designed program consisting of tai chi and qigong on 11 middle-aged and older adults with high blood sugar for 12 weeks. Seven of the participants also had metabolic syndrome, which includes abdominal obesity, impaired blood sugar control, high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides and high blood pressure. They found that participants showed a reduction in the waist size and blood pressure level, plus a minor improvement in blood sugar control.

Both tai chi and qigong are low-impact ancient Chinese practices that include gentle, flowing movements, breath work and meditation and visualization.

Although the studies seemed promising, they were too small to make solid conclusions. Larger clinical trials are in the works.

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