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Tai chi can help rehabilitate your heart

Tai chi could be the perfect form of light to moderate exercise for patients who have recently suffered a heart attack.

A new study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that Tai chi could be the right alternative for patients who decline or can’t handle traditional cardiac rehabilitation.

Tai chi, however, consists of slow and gentle movements with a central focus on breathing that can also lower stress.

Research has found that 69 percent of patients who recently suffered a heart attack refused cardiac rehabilitation for a number of reasons including cost, distance to a rehab facility, and fear that the exercise will be strenuous and painful.

Researchers from Brown University considered these factors and developed a modified Tai chi program for interested patients to see if the effects would be beneficial.

“We thought that Tai Chi might be a good option for these 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 Warren Alpert School of Medicine and lead author of the study.

The study’s participants included 8 women and 21 men who were heart disease patients at The Miriam Hospital in Rhode Island.

All of the participants were physically inactive and had declined rehabilitation, even though most had previously had a heart attack.

The results of the study were very promising, and all of the patients liked doing Tai chi regularly and would even recommend it to a friend.

The program was not strenuous, and only minor muscular pain was reported by the patients at the beginning.

“If proven effective in larger studies, it might be possible to offer it as an exercise option within a rehab center as a bridge to more strenuous exercise, or in a community setting with the educational components of rehab delivered outside of a medical setting,” said Salmoirago-Blotcher.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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