Tai Chi & Chemotherapy

According to figures released by the American Cancer Society in 2011, there are currently over 11.4 million people in this country alone currently suffering from some form of cancer. As we all know there are many different types of cancer treatment that all have varying levels of success. What is also known is that most of them have less than pleasant side effects, including a significant incidence of reduction in cognitive abilities as well as speech and memory problems. A recent study at the University of Missouri shows that Tai Chi may be able to help overcome some of the effects of chemotherapy.

According to Professor Stephanie Reid-Arndt of the Department of Health Psychology in the School of Health Professions, we have long known about the positive effects that Tai Chi classes such as those taught in Portland Oregon can have on both physical and mental health. She is quoted as saying “We know this activity can help people with their quality of life in general, and with this new study, we are encouraged about how Tai Chi could also help those who have received chemotherapy.”

She goes on to say that because Tai Chi involves the practice of slow fluid movements and teaches other skill such as breathing awareness, meditative relaxation and mindfulness that it was an exceptionally good exercise for chemotherapy patients. This is in part due to the fact that these patients are all going to be at different levels of fitness and as such may each have different limitations as to their physical abilities.

A study was conducted at the University that involved a test group of women who all had a history of undergoing chemotherapy treatments. The test occurred over a period of ten weeks, in which the women attend one hour Tai Chi classes twice each week. At the onset of the testing period, each participant was tested for their levels of memory, language skills, stress levels, moods, attention span and fatigue. Identical tests were conducted at the end of the ten week period so that accurate comparisons could be made.

tai chi and chemotherapyThe Tai Chi & Chemotherapy Studies

According to the study released in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice by Prof. Reid-Arndt, the results of the tests showed significant improvements in all of the tested areas at the end of their ten weeks of Tai Chi. As the practice of Taiji is designed to help each individual learn to focus their attention and as such is not only an excellent form of exercise for those undergoing chemotherapy, but for anyone regardless of whether they have undergone chemo or not.


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