Anti-wrinkle creams, radical diets, plastic surgery — people will do just about anything to stop (or at least pretend to stop) the aging process. Now, a new report suggests that tai chi, the traditional Chinese martial art, could help replenish stem cells and slow aging down.
Dr. Shinn-Zong Lin and a team of researchers recently studied two groups of people over the course of a year, with just one group participating in tai chi classes. The other group was asked to engage in brisk walking exercises.
Interestingly, Lin’s team didn’t use middle aged or senior volunteers. “We used young volunteers because they have better cell-renewing abilities than the old population and we also wanted to avoid having chronic diseases and medications as interfering factors,” Lin said.
Lin and his team found that the group which regularly participated in tai chi had a “significantly higher number of CD 34+ stem cells.” Lin’s report explains that CD 34+ cells are “cluster markers” for blood stem cells capable of self-renewal and growth. In other words, tai chi appears to increase blood flow, help in the regeneration of cells, and assist in slowing the aging process.
It’s also a more practical option when compared to brisk walking. “Considering that brisk walking may require a larger space or more equipment, tai chi seems to be an easier and more convenient choice of anti-aging exercise,” Lin’s team noted in their report, which has been published in the journal Cell Transplantation.
Dr. Paul Sandberg, a health expert and professor at the University of South Florida, says Lin’s study “provides the first step in providing scientific evidence for the possible health benefits of tai chi.” Sandberg suggests that new studies should seek to show “how tai chi can elicit benefit in different populations and on different parameters of aging”.