Keep your brain younger longer by adding tai chi to your workout routine, suggests a recent study published in Cell Transplantation.
Scientists at the Center for Neuropsychiatry at China Medical University Hospital in Taiwan conducted a yearlong study involving three different groups of volunteers under the age of 25. One group practiced tai chi (the ancient martial art that emphasizes breathing and slow, focused movements) for at least two hours a week, another group walked briskly for a minimum of two hours a week, and a third didn’t follow any specific exercise plan.
The results? Those who practiced tai chi experienced the highest increase in the number of specialized cells called CD 34+, which are markers for blood stem cells involved in cell self-renewal. Cell renewal is essential for maintenance and repair of organ systems and becomes less efficient as we age, so increasing the process is associated with anti-aging benefits. Tai chi may increase blood flow and widen blood vessel walls, says Shinn-Zong Lin, MD, PhD, a researcher involved with the study.
For those with limited space, tai chi may be an easier and more convenient than brisk walking as an anti aging choice, adds Lin. Previous studies have shown tai chi also improves balance and may help boost brain functioning.