Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese martial art and sport. The group performing Tai Chi saw a rise in their cluster of differentiation 34 expressing (CD34+) cells, a stem cell important to a number of the body's functions and structures.
Study corresponding author Dr. Shinn-Zong Lin of the Center for Neuropsychiatry, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan, said to evaluate the potential life-lengthening effect of Tai Chi, they conducted a year-long, retrospective cross-sectional study comparing the rejuvenating and anti-aging effects among three groups of volunteers under the age of 25 who engaged in either Tai Chi (TCC), brisk walking (BW), or no exercise habit (NEH).
Lin said that they used young volunteers because they have better cell-renewing abilities than the old population and they also wanted to avoid having chronic diseases and medications as interfering factors.
According to the authors, Tai Chi "has been confirmed to benefit" patients with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease and fibromyalgia. In addition, they cite possible advantages of Tai Chi in pain reduction, fall prevention and balance improvement, aerobic capacity, blood pressure, quality of life and stress reduction.
"Compared with the NEH group, the TCC group had a significantly higher number of CD 34+ cells," wrote the authors. "We found that the CD34+ cell count of the TCC group was significantly higher than the BW group."
They said that CD 34+ cells express the CD 34 protein and are "cluster markers" for hematopoietic stem cells (blood stem cells) involved in cell self-renewal, differentiation and proliferation.
Lin said it's possible that Tai Chi may prompt vasodilation and up blood flow.
The study has been published online in the journal Cell Transplantation.