Look after yourself for healthy life by QiGong, Tai Chi and Reiki  by Tunde at Tunde-World

Tai chi gentle on diabetes

The specially-designed program by medical and Tai Chi experts focuses on the health benefits of people with diabetes. Suitable for people with no prior knowledge of Tai Chi, it is safe and easy-to-learn, and designed to prevent and improve control of diabetes by gently increasing physical activities, cellular uptake of glucose and relaxation. It enhances Qi (life energy), which according to traditional Chinese medicine will help control diabetes. For people who don't have diabetes, practicing it could prevent diabetes, or just improve fitness and health.
  
Tai Chi for Diabetes is specially designed by Dr Lam and a team of medical and tai chi experts to help control and prevent diabetes. Studies have shown tai chi can improve glucose control and prevent diabetes. I hope more people would take up tai chi to improve  health and gain enjoyment from the practice.

Tai Chi gentle on diabetes

Tai chi should help people with type 2 diabetes improve their physical and mental wellbeing, say Australian researchers.


Grasping a sparrow's tail does not work up as much of a sweat as it sounds.

That's the beauty of the ancient Chinese martial art of tai chi. Based on a series of sets of gentle exercises with names like 'grasp the sparrows tail' and 'part the wild horse's mane', tai chi may benefit people with type 2 diabetes, say Australian researchers.

They compared blood sugar levels, blood pressure and other health measures for 25 patients who attended formal tai chi classes over a six-month period to those of a control group who did no formal exercise.

The study, published this month in Australian Family Physician, used standardized quality of life tests and reported that the group attending tai chi classes scored a significant improvement in both their social and their physical functioning. They also had lowered cholesterol levels compared to the control group.

However, the researchers from the University of New South Wales, admit the intensity and duration of the gentle tai chi exercise program was not sufficient to make a big difference to blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

But they argue that tai chi has higher levels of adherence than many other types of exercise. As it is non-competitive and levels are increased slowly, it is suitable for sedentary, overweight or disabled people, making it a good choice for those daunted by more strenuous programs.

A good first step

It has long been recognized that regular exercise has a positive impact on diabetes.

"Apart from genetic influences, physical inactivity and poor diet are the biggest causes of type 2 diabetes," says Bronwyn Penny, who is an accredited exercise physiologist at Diabetes Australia NSW.

"From a diabetes management point of view, exercise should form a major cornerstone in controlling the condition."

But a large proportion of adults with type 2 diabetes don't follow activity guidelines, which recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five times a week.

Penny says many diabetics are overweight or obese and associated arthritis and other conditions may make it difficult for people with these conditions to exercise.

"Tai chi and other forms of gentle exercise can be a great stepping stone to getting people more active," Penny says.

In the long-term, however, she believes people with diabetes need more intense exercise than tai chi to sustain good blood glucose control.

"We know that moderate to vigorous exercise will have a better impact on managing and controlling diabetes, however for a lot of people, tai chi can be an effective start."

     

Body and mind

Study co-author Dr Paul Lam is a Sydney-based GP, lecturer in community medicine at the University of New South Wales and a tai chi master.

Lam has seen a rapid increase in diabetes patients in his own practice, and says that despite most doctors recommending exercise to manage type 2 diabetes, many people with diabetes lead a sedentary lifestyle and are less likely to adhere to regular exercise.

"It's a vicious circle, many diabetics don't enjoy exercise because they're not very good at sports or they have not very coordinated, so they don't do it and then end up being even less coordinated."

Tai chi can help people with diabetes many ways, says Lam.

"It's not just the exercise, people are also learning to relax and improve their ability to handle stress, they get social reinforcement from sharing an enjoyable experience with others and it also nurtures community spirit."

Tai chi can help improve flexibility as well as have other mental health benefits, says Dr Pat Phillips, senior director of endocrinology at Adelaide's Queen Elizabeth Hospital and co-author of a book on the subject with Dr Lam.

"Flexibility can be a real challenge for people with Type 2 diabetes," Phillips says explaining that one common complication of diabetes is stiffness in joints and muscles that can result when the body's protein cells become bathed in glucose.

He's also a fan of the social benefits of tai chi for people with diabetes.

"We tend to underestimate the value of social interaction and the good feeling that you can get from exercising in a group."

Phillips adds that while medical management of diabetes often focuses on tablets, insulin treatments, blood tests and diet, there's increasing realization that physical fitness and good mental health are important components in controlling the condition.

The joy of exercise Joy Ford was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in her early thirties, over a decade ago, and also has sciatica.

She took up tai chi nearly two years ago and also walks for an hour or so five days a week.

"I can really feel the benefit from tai chi in my joints and I haven't had sciatica for more than twelve months now," she says.

"There's no way I would go to the gym with all those people in size ten leotards. The tai chi classes have a really big range of ages and sizes and people are very nice," she says, confessing that in the past, she's struggled to stay with any exercise programs for long.

Establishing an exercise routine that encourages long-term adherence is becoming more important for staying healthy as our sedentary Western lifestyle settles in for the long haul.

From http://www.abc.net.au/health/thepulse/stories/2008/10/09/2379469.htm"

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