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Diabetes Channel
Reported April 1, 2008

Asian Exercise for Diabetes

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- The ancient Chinese martial art, Tai Chi, involves slow, controlled poses, relaxation and deep breathing. Now, patients with type 2 diabetes may want to try out some Tai Chi moves thanks to results of new studies.

Research compiled from two studies in Taiwan shows practicing the martial art significantly lowered glycated hemoglobin -- when excess blood sugar combines with the oxygen transporter in red blood cells -- levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. Levels of interleukin-12, which boosts the immune response, doubled in these patients, while interleukin-4, which suppresses the immune response, fell. T cell activity also increased.

Participants practiced the exercises for about an hour and half up to three times a week for 12 weeks. In addition to the chemical benefits, patients lost an average of 6.6 pounds, reduced their waist size by almost three centimeters and saw their blood pressure fall more than would be expected from the weight loss alone, say the authors.

“A combination of [Tai Chi] exercise with medication may result in an even better improvement in both metabolism and immunity of patients with type 2 diabetes,” study authors write.

Previous research of the martial art finds it boosts cardiovascular and respiratory function, improves flexibility and relieves stress. Authors say the exercises may prompt a fall in glucose levels or improve blood glucose metabolism, prompting the drop in the inflammatory response observed in the study.

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SOURCE: To be published in an upcoming issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine

 

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