We’re almost into flu season, and there’s a new, but old regimen around to help combat it. A recent study at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, found that just twenty weeks of moderate T’ai Chi practice can improve people’s responses to flu vaccines in both duration and magnitude. The results of the study will appear in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, and will be presented at an upcoming conference at the Mayo Clinics.
"T’ai Chi has shown itself to have a positive impact on health for people of any age," says Barbara Davis, who is director of Great River T’ai Chi in Minneapolis. T’ai Chi, she notes, has been shown to improve balance, lower blood pressure, and it often is used for patients with schizophrenia, shingles and Parkinsons, and in cardiac rehab and physical therapy. "Though studies have focused on T’ai Chi for seniors or for combatting various illnesses, T’ai Chi is actually good for everyone-all ages, all levels of ability." She expects more studies to further validate the use of T’ai Chi in everything from bettering posture to teaching children how to resolve conflicts.
"T’ai Chi is wonderfully multi-facted," says Davis, editor of the Minneapolis-based Taijiquan Journal. "It began as a martial art in China, but blended health and meditative concepts into it resulting in something quite unique."
T’ai Chi is now taught around the world. Davis has taught T’ai Chi since 1979 in the Twin Cities and has presented at a number of international conferences. In addition to her regular teaching schedule, she currently teaches a class for people with schizophrenia at Tasks Unlimited in Minneapolis.
Davis expects T’ai Chi to gain a lot of attention this coming year due to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In China, in fact, there’s even a television drama series about to air based on T’ai Chi.