New York, Oct 11, Finding it difficult to join a cardiac rehabilitation centre due to rigorous workouts or financial constraints? Take heart, practising Tai Chi -- a form of ancient Chinese martial art -- may help patients for whom physical exercises can be unpleasant, painful and impossible, researchers suggest.
Tai Chi is characterised by slow, rhythmic and meditative movements, which enables the performer to find peace and calm within the mind and heart.
"Tai Chi might be a good option for people because you can start very slowly and simply and, as their confidence increases, the pace and movements can be modified to increase intensity," said Elena Salmoirago-Blotcher, Assistant Professor at the Brown University, Rhode Island in the US.
"Tai Chi exercises can reach low-to-moderate intensity levels. The emphasis on breathing and relaxation can also help with stress reduction and psychological distress."
The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that Tai Chi was safe, with no adverse events related to the exercise programme.
The research was conducted over physically inactive heart disease patients, both men and women, among whom 58.6 per cent of the total had earlier experienced a heart attack and procedures to open a blocked artery.
All the participants had denied cardiac rehabilitation and therefore developed high-risk characteristics at present, including smoking (27.6 per cent), diabetes (48.3 per cent), high cholesterol (75.9 per cent), overweight (35 per cent) and obesity (45 per cent).
The Tai Chi programme did not raise aerobic fitness but led to an increase in the weekly amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity at the same time.