Could Tai Chi offer the same benefits as more vigorous exercise?

Press/Media: Press / Media


BBC Television programme and accompanying onlne information

Period10 Oct 2018

Media coverage


Media coverage

  • TitleCould Tai Chi offer the same benefits as more vigorous exercise?
    Media name/outletBBC
    Media typeTelevision
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    DescriptionIn the Programme "Trust me I'm a Doctor" the BBC teamed up with Dr Sarah Aldred, Dr Jet Veldhuijzen van Zanten and Nor Fadila Kasim from the University of Birmingham.

    A group of volunteers aged between 65 and 75, none of whom did regular exercise were enrolled in either a Zumba class for 12 weeks, or a tai chi session for 12 weeks.

    At the beginning, middle and end of the 12 weeks, Sarah, Jet and Nor recorded the volunteers’ blood pressure and measured the flexibility of their blood vessels using ultrasound. The more flexible your blood vessels, the healthier they are.

    They also measured the levels of antioxidants and other chemical markers of stress and inflammation in the volunteers’ blood.

    As might be expected, the Zumba group were all fitter after 12 weeks. Their blood vessels were more elastic and their blood pressure had dropped. Their blood results improved in line with people undertaking an exercise regime.

    More surprisingly, the results from the tai chi group also showed similar benefits to the more rigorous Zumba group, with improvements in blood biomarkers, blood pressure and vessel flexibility.

    The answer as to why tai chi might have similar benefits may rest in the fact that tai chi might not be as gentle as it seems. Previous studies undertaken by Sarah and Jet show that people who practise tai chi have a similar rise in heart rate to those doing moderate intensity exercise.
    PersonsSarah Aldred