Joseph F. McCaffrey MD, FACS


Ancient Help for a New Problem

High blood pressure, abnormal glucose metabolism, high triglycerides and central obesity – these problems are bad enough on their own. Together they make a nasty mix labeled the metabolic syndrome.

This combination dramatically increases a person’s risk of heart disease and stroke. Worse, for reasons perhaps related to diet and exercise, metabolic syndrome has become rampant in today’s world

Now, a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that the ancient exercises of Tai Chi and Qigong help treat this modern plague. 

In the study, researchers prescribed a twelve-week program of these gentle exercises to people with signs of metabolic syndrome. At the end of that period, all the variables measured were better.

Specifically, the patients lost weight. Their blood pressure went down.  Their insulin resistance lessened. Their HgbA1C (a measure of the damaging effects of high blood sugars) decreased. In short, their health improved dramatically.

Another finding - the people involved followed the program very closely. Overall, they attended over 90% of the classes and did more than 80% of the exercises the researchers assigned them to do on their own.

Believe me, as a physician, I’m very used to giving great advice that nobody follows. Getting 90% of people to pay attention is remarkable. To me, these results suggest that the patients found the program both doable and enjoyable.

People already know Tai Chi improves balance and flexibility. Since fluid and gentle movements characterize tai chi, many are surprised to learn that it burns as many calories as walking at a brisk pace.

Even more surprising, tai chi strengthens the immune system.

Now you have yet another reason to explore the ancient and pleasant practices of Tai Chi and Qigong.

Although you can learn from books and videos, these skills are best learned under the guidance of an experienced instructor.


Liu X, et al. Preliminary study of the effects of Tai Chi and Qigong medical exercise on indicators of metabolic syndrome and glycemic control in adults with raised blood glucose levels Br J Sports Med 2008; DOI: 10.116/bjsm.2007.045476



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