London: Searching for the elusive fountain of youth? Begin Tai Chi classes as the traditional Chinese martial art and sport exercises may have anti-aging benefits.
Tai Chi has been found to be beneficial in raising the numbers of an important type of cell in young people who were tested to discover the benefits of Tai Chi.
The group performing Tai Chi saw a rise in their cluster of differentiation 34 expressing (CD34+) cells - a stem cell important to a number of the body's functions and structures.
CD 34+ cells express the CD 34 protein and are “cluster markers” for hematopoietic stem cells (blood stem cells) involved in cell self-renewal, differentiation and proliferation.
“To evaluate the potential life-lengthening effect of Tai Chi, we compared the rejuvenating and anti-aging effects of Tai Chi among three groups of volunteers under age 25 who engaged in either Tai Chi, brisk walking or no exercise habit,” explained Shinn-Zong Lin from China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.
Tai Chi “has been confirmed to benefit” patients with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease and fibromyalgia.
In addition, the researchers cited advantages of Tai Chi in pain reduction, fall prevention and balance improvement, aerobic capacity, blood pressure, quality of life and stress reduction.
Compared with the no exercise habit group, the Tai Chi group had a significantly higher number of CD 34+ cells.
They also found that the CD34+ cell count of the Tai Chi group was significantly higher than the brisk walking group.
“It is possible that Tai Chi may prompt vasodilation and increase blood flow,” Lin said.
“This study provides the first step into providing scientific evidence for the possible health benefits of Tai Chi,” said Paul R. Sanberg from University of South Florida.
The study has been published in the journal Cell Transplantation.