The martial art of Tai Chi can improve Type 2 diabetes control, say researchers in Taiwan.
Tai Chi combines deep diaphragmatic breathing and relaxation with gentle movement.
The research team, whose work will be published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, assessed the impact of a 12-week programme of Tai Chi exercises on the T helper cell activity of 60 patients of the same age - half with Type 2 diabetes and half without the condition.
T cells are a key component of the body’s immune system, producing powerful chemicals which alter the immune response.
Strenuous vs moderate activity
According to the researchers, strenuous physical activity depresses the immune system response, but moderate exercise seems to have the opposite effect. Tai Chi is classified as moderate exercise.
“This interesting new research further confirms that moderate exercise is vital in effectively managing Type 2 diabetes,” said Cathy Moulton, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK.
"Good diabetes control reduces people’s risk of developing serious complications such as heart disease, stroke and blindness.
How much moderate activity to do daily
“Diabetes UK recommends that people with diabetes do a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on at least five days of the week.
What counts as moderate physical activity?
"Any activity that leaves you feeling warm and slightly breathless but still able to hold a conversation counts as moderate exercise - including vigorously cleaning the house, briskly walking the dog and, of course, Tai Chi.
“In addition to the importance of moderate physical activity, the relaxation element of Tai Chi may help to reduce stress levels, preventing the release of adrenalin which can lead to insulin resistance and high blood glucose levels.”