How Tai Chi Might Be Your Secret Weapon Against Depression, Obesity and Diabetes

Moderate Exercise.  At least thirty minutes a day. Tai Chi is your secret weapon against diabetes & obesity

Think sweat, effort and heavy breathing.

That’s what it takes to make a difference, right?

I thought so.

It turns out, I might have been wrong.

At a recent conference at the Gold Coast, I nearly fell off my chair when Dr Liu Xin presented the results from a study named the SMILE Tai Chi program.  The program involved a mixture of both Tai Chi and Qigong and was designed to target diabetes and obesity.

The results were amazing!

When East meets West magic happens

Participants in the study who either had diabetes or pre-diabetes experienced

  • drops in blood pressure of between 9 and 12%
  •  a decrease in waist circumference of 3%
  • improved blood sugar levels
  •  a reduction in levels of depression.

Other benefits reported by study participants included improvements in sleep, energy levels and fewer food cravings.

When I chatted to Dr Liu, he said that the Tai Chi program had been specially modified to produce the results seen in the study.

My western mind was working overtime trying to explain the results.  Tai Chi and Qigong are a relaxing, almost meditative form of exercise. This would reduce the low grade chronic stress so many people experience and there would be a corresponding reduction in both cortisol production in the body and blood sugar levels.

However, not everything can be explained from a western, medical viewpoint and I can’t wait to see the results of further studies as they come to hand.

An internet search also revealed the surprising fact that Tai Chi burns more calories per hour than brisk walking.

Who knew?

Dr Paul Lam, a Tai Chi expert from Sydney has also created a Tai Chi for Diabetes program and has instructional DVDs for sale.  Enjoy this short 3 minute video where he talks about the benefits of Tai Chi and the results experienced by one gorgeous lady.

I’d love to know your thoughts about these findings in the comments. Have you tried Tai Chi and what did you think?

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9 Responses to “How Tai Chi Might Be Your Secret Weapon Against Depression, Obesity and Diabetes”

  1. Krystina Feucht September 22, 2012 at 12:10 am #

    When my husband decided to start Tai Chi I at first thought it was kind of silly. It seems so slow that I couldn’t fathom the stress relief as I like to pound out my own stress with a good sweaty workout!

    Boy did I learn something. After just 2 session I could see the difference in him. It really helps tap that place of focus and calm, and teaches you how to do it even when not physically practicing the motions.

    • Claire September 27, 2012 at 12:10 am #

      I think Tai Chi is a best kept secret! Not that there’s not a place for a great sweaty workout but it is nice to know that something a bit slower can still be fantastic on so many levels.

  2. Angela September 22, 2012 at 12:27 am #

    Hey Claire

    I’ve tried Tai Chi. I did enjoy it and can imagine the benefits if one does it long-term. I love high exertion exercise so much that I find it a challenge to get myself to do something slower like yoga or Tai Chi (although I know I should!). :-)

  3. Debi September 22, 2012 at 4:24 am #

    Very interesting post Claire. I’ve often thought about trying Tai Chi. Maybe it’s time I get around to doing it. Thank you!

    • Claire September 27, 2012 at 12:05 am #

      Thanks Debi! I think you’ll love it!

  4. Daisy September 22, 2012 at 6:56 am #

    It’s fascinating how a calming, breathing exercise can make us sweat. I’ve done tai chi in the past and I remember how much it would calm me down. I’d glisten throughout the 24 poses, not sweat as much as a cardio workout but still. I’d love to get back into it!

    • Claire September 27, 2012 at 12:04 am #

      It IS amazing, isn’t it? I’m looking forward to integrating it into my weekly routine.

  5. Prime September 25, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    Hi Claire, I haven’t done Tai chi myself but I can attest to the many benefits of traditional Chinese medicine and its emphasis on building a daily rhythm. It’s so important – it grounds us and keeps us in good health.

    • Claire September 27, 2012 at 12:03 am #

      That is so true, Prime! We have much to learn in the West!