Tai Chi Lowers Blood Pressure More than Cardio, Study Says

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Feb. 13, 2024 -- The ancient Chinese martial art of tai chi is 52% more effective at lowering blood pressure than traditional cardio exercises like jogging and cycling, a new study says.

Researchers studied 342 people with prehypertension -- systolic blood pressure between 120 and 139 mmHg, pressure in millimeters of mercury, and diastolic pressure between 80 and 89 mmHg. Prehypertension can be a precursor for high blood pressure if there’s no intervention.

The participants had an average age of 49.

Half of the group was prescribed tai chi for one hour four times a week, and another traditional cardio exercise – running, cycling, swimming, or brisk walking – for the same amount of time.

A year later, the researchers found that people practicing tai chi saw their systolic blood pressure lowered by 7.01 mmHg. The people practicing traditional aerobic exercise saw reductions of 4.61 mmHg.

The research was conducted by the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences. Results were published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Tai chi combines slow, deliberate movements, meditation, and breathing exercises. It aims to improve circulation, balance, and alignment, and to restore energy. It is considered excellent fitness activities for people of all levels – from beginners to elite athletes.

“From the perspective of implementation, a Tai Chi program is easy to introduce and practice in community settings, thereby providing primary care for populations with prehypertension. Tai Chi can help improve body flexibility, balance, and cardiopulmonary function while reducing the risk of falls,” the researchers wrote.