Tai Chi: The Ideal Exercise Option for Heart Surgery Patients?
Doctors perform more than five million heart surgeries every year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These range from stent insertions and open-heart procedures to angioplasties and other cardiovascular procedures. As part of these patients’ recovery plans, many physicians recommend some type of light exercise program. If you’ve undergone heart-related surgery and are looking for a way to be active, tai chi is a terrific option.
Health benefits of tai chi
Over the past several decades, the Chinese martial art known as tai chi has become recognized as an alternative to traditional exercise programs. People of all ages have embraced the low-intensity movements that tai chi offers. As WebMD notes, practicing tai chi on a regular basis can help the body in a number of ways. It improves balance and strength, helps improve mood and reduces chronic pain and discomfort. Tai chi may also help to decrease blood pressure while also boosting cardiovascular function.
Studies support tai chi for heart health
Tai chi’s positive impact on heart patients has captured the attention of researchers, as numerous studies have been conducted to determine whether tai chi is an effective form of exercise for cardiac patients in recovery from surgery. Additional studies have focused on tai chi as a good option for people who have been diagnosed with a heart condition. Overall, the results of these studies have been positive. For example, according to Medscape, a meta-analysis of numerous studies found that tai chi may improve the quality of life in people who have been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. In addition, it should also be considered as a part of cardiac rehab programs in patients who have undergone heart surgery.
The National Institutes of Health also looked at numerous studies about tai chi and heart health and found that tai chi is an effective exercise for people with coronary heart disease and can help those with chronic heart failure.
Why tai chi is so effective
Engaging in some type of regular physical activity can have a positive effect on the heart. In addition to helping people stay at an ideal weight, exercise can also keep blood pressure readings normalized and improve overall cholesterol levels. Despite the fact that tai chi is a low to moderate form of exercise, it is recognized for improving aerobic capacity and is a safe way for cardiovascular patients to get much-needed exercise.
How to get started with tai chi
Another reason tai chi can be so beneficial is that it is a relatively low-cost form of exercise and is accessible to most people. Heart patients who would like to give the low impact exercise a try can use a variety of resources. For example, for those who would prefer to learn and practice tai chi from the comfort of home—which might be ideal for those who are recovering from heart surgery—sites like GaiamTV.com feature online tai chi workouts. Another option is to sign up for a tai chi class through a local community or senior center or the YMCA. In addition to learning how to do the low-impact stretches and moves, a trained instructor can work with participants to make sure they are doing all of the moves correctly.
Keep on tickin!
Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.