Slow-motion and breathing-based exercise, such as tai chi, is as effective as cardiovascular exercise in reducing belly fat in older adults.
According to a new study, those aged 50 and over who practiced tai chi for 12 weeks lost nearly the same amount of waist circumference as older adults who conducted traditional exercise (such as aerobics and strength training).
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Even though tai chi is regarded as a good sport for older people, particularly those who are inactive, there has previously been little proof of its health advantages, according to research author Parco Siu. He is the director of the kinesiology section of the University of Hong Kong School of Public Health.
According to Siu, the statistical study did not reveal that tai chi is more effective than conventional exercise, but it did reveal that tai chi reflects the favorable benefits of conventional exercise by lowering waist circumference in middle-aged and older persons with central obesity. The findings imply that tai chi may be a viable alternative to traditional exercise in the treatment of central obesity.
As per the authors, every one of the 543 patients in the research exhibited “central obesity,” which occurs in people with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of risk factors that raises the likelihood of acquiring type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Siu’s team allocated research participants to one of three groups at random. The Yang style of tai chi was employed in the curriculum. Traditional exercisers walked briskly and practiced strength training. The two exercise groups completed their allocated activities in instructor-led sessions for one hour three times each week. The last group did not do any physical activity.
The researchers at three points evaluated the bodies of the individuals: baseline, week 12, and week 38. Secondary outcomes were body weight, BMI, HDL (“good”) cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting plasma glucose, and blood pressure.
The waist circumference was reduced by the same amount in both activity groups. They also saw an improvement in their HDL cholesterol. There were no discernible variations in fasting glucose or blood pressure. Over 12 weeks, the control group gained an average of 0.8 cm (approximately one-third of an inch) in waist circumference.
Tai chi may be a viable alternative to traditional exercise in the treatment of central obesity. This is encouraging news for middle-aged and older persons who have central obesity but are hesitant to engage in traditional exercise owing to preference or poor mobility, according to Siu.
Tai chi, a mind-body workout involving slow motions and breathing, has been described as “meditation in action.” It is done in many Asian nations and is gaining popularity in Western nations like the United States, where around 2 million individuals practice it, according to the study’s authors.
Tai chi is widely available at community centers and sports/fitness clubs as explained by Siu. Other health advantages of Tai Chi include fall prevention, osteoarthritis treatment, cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal fitness, cardiometabolic health, and psychological wellness.
The basic processes underpinning Tai chi’s health benefits are still largely unknown. More study is needed to uncover the processes underlying Tai chi’s health benefits, as per Siu.
Michael Rogers, an American College of Sports Medicine fellow and the director of the Center for Physical Activity and Aging at Wichita State University in Kansas said that in previous research where he’s been involved with, yielded different results, even though the impact the research was looking at was not the same.
The researchers compared cardiovascular parameters in exercise groups to four modes suggested for older persons in Rogers’ study: aerobic; strength; balance and flexibility; and a tai chi group.
The aerobic group was the only one that improved aerobic fitness out of all the modalities.
Everyone knows that tai chi is good for balance, but it’s also good for improving muscular strength, according to Rogers. This is most likely the first study he’s seen that shows tai chi has an effect on fat in middle-aged and older persons.