When you think about exercise, your mind probably immediately comes up with a sweaty image of feeling out of breath. While high-intensity exercise is designed to get your heart pumping and sweaty, not all exercise is that complete. In fact, according to Dr. Michael Mosley, “gentle” and “slow” exercises reminiscent of “meditation” may be enough to improve your heart health.
If the idea of hitting the local gym or going for a run doesn’t appeal to you, you’re not alone.
But not all exercises require you to go out and sweat through your t-shirt.
Speaking on his Just One Thing podcast, Dr. Mosley said, “I’m in my garden doing some light, slow exercise, which should not only improve my balance, but can also benefit my immune system and heart health.
“I practice tai chi, an ancient Chinese martial art.
“Sometimes this is called shadow combat, or perhaps more accurately, meditation in motion.
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“And it’s a series of different poses that should flow smoothly into each other with slow movements.”
Words such as “soft” and “slow” that the doctor used to describe taijiquan are at the heart of it.
Unlike running or cycling, tai chi is a low-impact exercise that only requires a series of movements named after animal actions, such as “white crane spreading its wings,” Harvard Medical School explains.
As you perform these movements, you breathe deeply and naturally while focusing on your body.
If that’s not enough to get you to add tai chi to your daily routine, the benefits associated with this ancient practice may help.
Dr. Mosley said, “Tai Chi is said to be good for heart health.
“During a recent study in which they compared it to brisk walking, they found that tai chi was significantly better at reducing not only blood pressure but also other risk factors for heart disease, such as blood sugar and cholesterol levels.”
It’s no secret that all of these conditions set the stage for serious health problems if left to their own devices.
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A healthy diet and medications are usually the first line of defense when it comes to controlling high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
But physical movement can also provide some benefits, with tai chi seeming to be especially powerful.
This does not mean that you should stop taking your medication or stop following your doctor’s instructions.
In addition, reducing the risk of all these health problems will not only protect your heart, but it can also increase your life expectancy.
Dr. Mosley said: “A study published in 2022 that followed 60,000 men in Shanghai over five years found that those who practiced tai chi regularly lived significantly longer than those who did not.
“This could mean that people who practice tai chi are more health conscious, or that something else is actually going on.”
If you feel the need to add this “gentle” exercise to your routine, the doctor shared, “It’s easy to do at home and you don’t even need to change.”
Online videos and exercises can help you get up to speed and master this powerful exercise.