Tuesday, June 14, 2011

TAI CHI AND CHEMOTHERAPY: MU researcher says ancient Chinese practice may help

COLUMBIA, 6/14/11  (Beat Byte) -- The ancient Chinese martial art Tai Chi may help patients who receive intensive chemotherapy to combat cancer but suffer declines in verbal fluency and memory as side effects, a University of Missouri, Columbia psychology professor has discovered in a new study.   
"Scientists have known for years that Tai Chi positively impacts physical and emotional health, but this small study also uncovered evidence that it might help cognitive functioning as well," said Stephanie Reid-Arndt, assistant professor and chair of the Department of Health Psychology in the MU School of Health Professions. 

Tai Chi practitioners stand out in the crowd, often practicing their slow motion routines on placid afternoons in parks and in groups.  Breathing awareness, relaxation, and slow movement makes Tai Chi suited to a wide range of fitness levels, Reid-Arndt said.

The MU study followed women with a history of chemotherapy who participated in a 60-minute Tai Chi class two times a week for 10 weeks.   The study tested the women on memory, language, attention, stress, mood and fatigue before and after the 10-week sessions.  The women made significant improvements in their psychological health and cognitive abilities, Reid-Arndt explained, though she wants to test larger groups to confirm the findings.   
"We are encouraged about how Tai Chi could help those who have received chemotherapy," she said.  "Tai Chi really helps individuals focus their attention, and this study also demonstrates how good Tai Chi could be for anyone, whether or not they have undergone treatment for cancer."  

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