The slow, flowing movements of Tai Chi have been shown to improve heart health, especially in people with chronic heart failure.
Tai Chi is a popular pastime in China and many other countries – studies have shown that the rhythmic exercise can improve health, especially in people with heart problems1.
Men and women of any age can take part in Tai Chi – it can be done at any time of day and you don't need any equipment. It's a versatile exercise that can be done alone at home or in larger groups outdoors.
Performing gentle Tai Chi movements daily has been shown to improve wellbeing and it may benefit the heart. A 2019 study found that a daily session of Tai Chi can lead to significantly improved mental health. It was linked to lower rates of depression and psychological distress, and significantly better mental health in people with cardiovascular disease1.
All forms of exercise can help your heart, including Tai Chi, as they help to lower blood pressure and increase the amount of 'good' cholesterol our body produces2. Getting more exercise, more frequently, can cut your risk of heart attack, stroke and death from other causes.
Although it's technically a martial art, the slow style of Tai Chi that's popular in the West is more like slow dancing than karate. It's performed with a series of slow, flowing movements – these are generally done once or twice daily. You can do it while standing up or seated, at a speed which suits you.
Tai Chi can feel like the polar opposite of exercise – it won't leave you feeling breathless, tired or drenched in sweat. In fact, most people report feeling more energetic and self-confident after taking up Tai Chi. Some people say that it helps improve their flexibility and balance as well3,4.
It's a great way to stay heart-healthy and absolutely anyone can give it a go. You could teach yourself at home using online videos or with an instructor. The British Heart Foundation suggests checking with your GP before making changes to your exercise routine if you have a health condition.