Tai Chi training might promote emotional stability and slow gray matter atrophy in seniors

Posted in Memory & Mental Health

PsyPost - By ERIC W. DOLAN September 14, 2019

Tai Chi training might promote emotional stability and slow gray matter atrophy in seniors

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Long-term Tai Chi practitioners tend to have better emotional stability and more gray matter in important brain structures, according to new research that examined people who were between 60 and 70 years old. The study was published in Frontiers in Psychology.

“Adverse structural changes in the brain, especially the atrophy of gray matter, are inevitable in aging,” said study author Zhiyuan Liu, an associate professor at Shaanxi Normal University in China.

“Tai Chi is a popular exercise for older adults in China which combines Chinese martial arts and meditative movements with a kind of yogic relaxation through deep breathing. Compared with other exercises that contain a meditation element, Tai Chi is generally recognized as a safe and low-cost complementary therapy.”

The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to compare the brain structure of 31 long-term Tai Chi practitioners to 31 participants who were matched in age, gender, and physical activity level. Those in the Tai Chi group had been practicing Tai Chi for about 10 years on average.

The Tai Chi group scored higher on tests of mindfulness and emotional stability compared to the control group. Tai Chi group also had larger gray matter volume in the two important brain regions, the left thalamus and the left hippocampus.

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