People living with heart disease, high blood pressure or stroke may benefit from practicing traditional Chinese exercises such as Tai Chi, showed a study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
"Traditional Chinese exercises are a low-risk, promising intervention that could be helpful in improving quality of life in patients with cardiovascular diseases — the leading cause of disability and death in the world," study author Yu Liu, dean of the School of Kinesiology at Shanghai University of Sport in China, said in a statement.
"But the physical and psychological benefits to these patients of this increasingly popular form of exercise must be determined based on scientific evidence."
In the new study, the researchers reviewed 35 research articles, which included 2,249 cardiovascular disease patients from 10 countries.
They found Chinese exercises helped reduce the participants' systolic blood pressure, the top number, by more than 9.12 mmHg, and diastolic blood pressure, the bottom number, by more than 5 mmHg on average.
The study also revealed small, but statistically significant drops in the levels of bad cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein, and triglycerides.
Chinese exercises also seemed to improve quality of life and reduce depression in patients with cardiovascular disease, they said.
"Our systematic review results showed that TCE (traditional Chinese exercises) should be useful for patients with CVD (cardiovascular disease)," the researchers wrote in their paper.
However, traditional Chinese exercises did not significantly improve participant's heart rate, aerobic fitness level or scores on a general health questionnaire.
The review only analyzed studies which randomly assigned participants to groups performing traditional Chinese exercises, most commonly Tai Chi, Qigong and Baduanjin, engaging in another form of exercise or making no change in activity level.
Next, Liu and his team planned to conduct new randomized controlled trials to confirm the effect of different types of traditional Chinese exercises on chronic diseases.