Tai Chi Can Benefit Those With Depression And Diabetes

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An Australian study which assessed the ancient Chinese art of Tai Chi as a treatment for depression and diabetes showed that both conditions could be improved by a mind-body therapy.

At a time when depression currently affects around 20 percent of the population and the number of people diagnosed with diabetes is increasing, the results of this study look promising.

The three month trial was run by Dr Liu Xin from Queensland University and was funded by the Diabetes Australia Research Trust.

Dr Liu Xin is an expert in mind body therapy and designed a Tai Chi programme specifically for depression and diabetes.

There were 52 participants involved in the study, most of whom had diabetes with the rest classed as pre-diabetic.

At the end of the trial, the percentage of people showing signs of clinical depression decreased from 60 percent to 20 percent, but BMI (body mass index) and waist circumference measurements also decreased too and this was using just Tai Chi exercise alone.

“Without involvement of any dietary intervention and high intensity training, it was very encouraging to see such impressive results over a short period of time,” Dr Liu said.

“In addition to the improvements in depression and obesity, the results of the study also show that this specific program has a beneficial effect on indicators of blood glucose control (decreased by 6 percent), hypertension (decreased by 9 percent and 12 percent in systolic and diastolic blood pressure respectively) and insulin resistance (decreased by 20 percent),” he said.

Other positive effects reported by those who have tried the programme include improved mood, self esteem and confidence, as well as less stress, more motivation, better sleeping patterns, improved breathing, and a more positive outlook on life in general.

As the results of the first trial were so promising, Dr Lui Xin is carrying out a larger controlled trial named SMILE, which stands for Mental and Metabolic Syndrome Innovative Lifelong Exercise.

This study has been funded by the National Heart Foundation and Beyondblue Cardiovascular Disease and Depression Strategic Research Programme.

“If this SMILE program can be further confirmed to have beneficial effects on indicators of depression, obesity and other risk factors for developing cardiovascular diseases in the large trial, the findings can be translated into great social and economic benefit for public health” said Dr Liu.

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