There was a recent study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology that discussed the health benefits of tai chi. The study authors claimed that tai chi significantly increases blood levels of adiponectin.
I had to look up the role of adiponectin. Adiponectin is a hormone that regulates glucose concentrations in the blood stream and the breakdown of fatty acids. It also plays a role in suppressing the metabolic malfunctions that lead to Type II diabetes, obesity, and atherosclerosis. Increased levels of adiponectin correlate with better health.
I'm not sure that this study proves what they claim. They showed that tai chi is better than sitting around. They did not show that tai chi is better than other exercise. Nevertheless, it is good news because it shows that tai chi improves health.
Here is the citation and abstract:
Chang, R. Y., M. Koo, et al. "Effects of Tai Chi on adiponectin and glucose homeostasis in individuals with cardiovascular risk factors." Eur J Appl Physiol 111(1): 57-66.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the acute effect of a single bout of Tai Chi (TC) exercise on adiponectin and glucose homeostasis in individuals with cardiovascular risk factors. Twenty-six individuals (mean age 60.2 years) with at least one cardiovascular risk factor who had been practicing Yang's style TC exercise for at least 3 months were recruited from a regional hospital in Taiwan. A one-group repeated measured quasi-experimental design was used. Participants completed a 60-min Yang's style TC exercise routine including warm up, stretching exercises, and TC followed by a 30-min resting period.
After a 1-week washout period, the same group of participants underwent a control condition in which they were instructed to remain seated for 90 min at the study location. Blood samples were collected both before and after the TC intervention or the sitting condition. The difference between pre-post measurements for adiponectin was 0.58 +/- 1.42 mug/ml in the TC trial and -0.46 +/- 0.99 mug/ml in the sitting trial. The differences between the two trials were statistically significant (P = 0.004). The changes from pretrial to posttrial were significantly greater for glycerol (P < 0.001), cholesterol (P = 0.046), and LDL-C (P = 0.038) in the TC trial compared with those in the sitting trial. Conversely, the changes were significantly lesser for HOMA-IR (P = 0.004), log (HOMA-IR) (P = 0.001), and glucose (P = 0.003) in TC trial compared with those in the sitting trial. In conclusion, a single bout of TC exercise had a significant positive effect on blood adiponectin concentrations in individuals with cardiovascular risk factors.
© 2011 Eric Borreson