Effect of Tai chi on the immune response on older people was studied by Professor Michael Irwin, from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). It was found that immune system was better in people who performed tai chi which a westernized version of Chinese martial art and is a slow movement exercise. This study finds a place in the April issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Varicella zoster virus is responsible for causing shingles which results in painful blistery rash on the body. Chicken pox is also caused by the same virus. People who are affected by chicken pox early in life are more prone to shingles. The virus remains latent in the body and manifests itself in a situation when immunity is low. The rashes can last for three to five weeks. Almost one third of adults above sixty years are vulnerable to shingles attack.
For this research Irwin and his colleagues studied 112 senior citizens who had attended tai chi classes thrice a week for sixteen weeks and other who took up some kind of health classes. Shingle vaccine had been administered to people from both the groups. When the level of resistance was analyzed at the end of twenty five weeks, it was found that it was more than double in people who had undergone tai chi classes. They also performed better physically and mentally.
Irwin also highlights the other positive aspects of tai chi on infectious diseases like influenza and pneumonia. According to him, tai chi could complement and improve the efficacy of vaccines for other indications like influenza and pneumonia.