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According to two small studies published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in April 2008, Tai Chi exercises can improve blood glucose levels and improve the control of type 2 diabetes and immune system response.

Type 2 diabetes is a form of diabetes that usually sets in later in life. It is associated with chronic inflammation cause by increase glucose levels in the blood, known as hyperglycemia. When there is excess blood sugar, it can combine with hemogloben, the oxygen transporter in the red blood cell, it can become glycated hemogloben. This can be used to indicate the levels of excess sugars. In the immune system, helper T cells prompt stimulus of other immune system cells, altering the immune response. They respond to specific antigens, producing interleukins and other important signaling chemicals. As a result, they are essential for the cell mediated immune response .

Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art that combines diaphragmatic breathing and relaxation with soft, gentle movements. It is considered moderate exercise, which has previously been shown to improve immune system response, in contrast to strenuous physical activity, which depresses it. Previous studies have shown that it improves respiratory and cardiovascular function, while improving flexibility and relieving Written by Anna Sophia McKenney Refer and 

To help prevent and improve control of diabetes by gently increasing physical activities, cellular uptake of glucose and relaxation. It enhances Qi (life energy), which according to traditional Chinese medicine will help control diabetes.

Tai Chi experts focuses on the health benefits of people with diabetes. Suitable for people with no prior knowledge of Tai Chi, it is safe and easy-to-learn, and designed to prevent and improve control of diabetes by gently increasing physical activities, cellular uptake of glucose and relaxation. It enhances Qi (life energy), which according to traditional Chinese medicine will help control diabetes. For people who don't have diabetes, practicing it could prevent diabetes, or just improve fitness and health.

Tai Chi gentle on diabetes

Tai chi should help people with type 2 diabetes improve their physical and mental wellbeing, say Australian researchers.

Grasping a sparrow's tail does not work up as much of a sweat as it sounds.

That's the beauty of the ancient Chinese martial art of tai chi. Based on a series of sets of gentle exercises with names like 'grasp the sparrows tail' and 'part the wild horse's mane', tai chi may benefit people with type 2 diabetes, say Australian researchers.

They compared blood sugar levels, blood pressure and other health measures for 25 patients who attended formal tai chi classes over a six-month period to those of a control group who did no formal exercise.

The study, published this month in Australian Family Physician, used standardized quality of life tests and reported that the group attending tai chi classes scored a significant improvement in both their social and their physical functioning. They also had lowered cholesterol levels compared to the control group.

However, the researchers from the University of New South Wales, admit the intensity and duration of the gentle tai chi exercise program was not sufficient to make a big difference to blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

But they argue that tai chi has higher levels of adherence than many other types of exercise. As it is non-competitive and levels are increased slowly, it is suitable for sedentary, overweight or disabled people, making it a good choice for those daunted by more strenuous programs.

A good first step

It has long been recognized that regular exercise has a positive impact on diabetes.

"Apart from genetic influences, physical inactivity and poor diet are the biggest causes of type 2 diabetes," says Bronwyn Penny, who is an accredited exercise physiologist at Diabetes Australia NSW.

"From a diabetes management point of view, exercise should form a major cornerstone in controlling the condition."

But a large proportion of adults with type 2 diabetes don't follow activity guidelines, which recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five times a week.

Penny says many diabetics are overweight or obese and associated arthritis and other conditions may make it difficult for people with these conditions to exercise.

"Tai chi and other forms of gentle exercise can be a great stepping stone to getting people more active," Penny says.

In the long-term, however, she believes people with diabetes need more intense exercise than tai chi to sustain good blood glucose control.

"We know that moderate to vigorous exercise will have a better impact on managing and controlling diabetes, however for a lot of people, tai chi can be an effective start."

Type 2 diabetes and Tai chi, Qigong exercise