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Antioxidant Effect of Tai Chi in Older Adults with Metabolic Syndrome

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of Tai Chi (TC) exercise training in healthy older adults has been demonstrated. However, there are no studies on this effect in older adults with metabolic syndrome (MetS), which is a cluster of conditions - increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels - that occur together and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

A new Mexican study published by Clinical interventions in aging in April of 2018 aimed to determine the effect of TC exercise on oxidative stress and inflammatory markers in older adults with MetS.

A quasi-experimental study was carried out with a sample of 110 older sedentary volunteers with clinical diagnoses of MetS: (i) a control group with 50 individuals who do not participate in physical exercise, of which 37 fulfilled the entire study protocol, and (ii) an experimental group with 60 subjects enrolled in a TC exercise training program (eight-form easy), 5 days a week for 6 months, in sessions of 50 min, under the supervision of a qualified instructor, of which 48 fulfilled the entire study protocol.

The researchers measured multiple factors in both groups (pre- and post-intervention). A statistically significant decrease in HbA1c concentration was observed in the TC group compared with the control group (the higher the HbA1c, the greater the risk of developing diabetes-related complications). The TC group also showed a statistically significant increase in Total Antioxidant Status (TAS) and a decrease in the oxidative stress score. The researchers did not observe changes in the cardiovascular parameters (RHR, DBP, SBP, MAP, RHR-SBP product, and RHR-MAP product) in the TC experimental group compared to the control group.

The findings suggest that the practice of TC exercise has an anti-oxidative and hypoglycemic effect in the elderly with MetS.

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