Below is an interesting research report from UF Health Newsnet, which
provides news releases on the latest medical and health advances from the
University of Florida Health Science Center:
A regular tai chi exercise program can help people better control their
diabetes and lower glucose levels, according to a University of Florida study.
In a study of adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, those who participated
in a supervised tai chi exercise program two days a week with three days of home
practice for six months significantly lowered their fasting blood glucose
levels, improved their management of the disease, and enhanced their overall
quality of life, including mental health, vitality and energy.
"Tai chi really has similar effects as other aerobic exercises on diabetic
control. The difference is tai chi is a low-impact exercise, which means that
it's less stressful on the bones, joints and muscles than more strenuous
exercise," said Beverly Roberts, Ph.D., R.N., the Annabel Davis Jenks endowed
professor at the UF College of Nursing.
Roberts, with Rhayun Song, Ph.D., R.N., of Chungham National University,
studied tai chi's effect on older Korean residents. The research was featured in
the June issue of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
About 23.6 million children and adults in the United States, or 7.8 percent
of the population, have diabetes. It occurs when the body does not produce or
properly use insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and
other food into energy needed for daily life.
Risk factors include obesity, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits,
high blood pressure and cholesterol, a history of gestational diabetes and
increased age, many of which can be reduced through exercise.
"People assume that for exercise to be beneficial you have to be huffing and
puffing, sweating and red-faced afterward," Roberts said. "This may turn people
off, particularly older adults. However, we have found that activities like tai
chi can be just as beneficial in improving health."
Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that combines deep breathing and
relaxation with slow, gentle circular movements. This low-impact exercise uses
shifts in body position and stepping in coordination with arm movements.
Sixty-two participants, mostly Korean women, took part in the study. Half the
group participated in at least 80 percent of two supervised sessions one hour
per week, with three days of home practice for six months, and the other half
served as a control group. Those who completed the sessions had significantly
improved glucose control and reported higher levels of vitality and energy.
"Those who participated in the tai chi sessions actually had lower blood
glucose at three and six months," Roberts said. "Those individuals also had
lower hemoglobin A1c, which means they had better diabetic control."
In addition to improved blood glucose levels, participants also reported
significantly improved mental health. This was very encouraging since people
with less depression are typically more active and independent, Roberts said.
Tai chi has also been used for people with arthritis and disabilities to
increase balance, muscle strength and mobility and to reduce the risk of falls.
It is worth investigating its effects in other conditions, especially in older
people, Roberts said.
"Tai chi provides a great alternative for people who may want the benefits of
exercise on diabetic control but may be physically unable to complete strenuous
activities due to age, condition or injury," Roberts said. "Future studies could
examine if tai chi could similarly benefit conditions such as osteoporosis or
Since tai chi is an exercise that involves so many parts of the body and also
helps to relax the mind, it is more likely participants will adhere to the
exercise, said Paul Lam, M.B.B.S., a lecturer with the University of South Wales
School of Public Health and Community Medicine and a practicing family physician
in Sydney, Australia.
"This study shows that tai chi can have a significant effect on the
management and treatment of diabetes -- a significant and growing health
challenge for all Western countries," Lam said.
Attention Senior Health-Fitness Professionals: Please take note of
this advice and be sure to pass it along quickly to your older adult clients.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) wants you to know some important
information about the use of hand sanitizers. As summarized by the Pulse wire
report, here are the facts:
Washing one's hands thoroughly and often helps to prevent the spread of flu.
When washing with soap and water isn't possible, however, the CDC recommends
substituting alcohol-based hand rubs. Research shows that hand rubs containing
enough alcohol are useful for reducing the number of both viral and bacterial
germs on the hands.
Either gel or liquid products may be used, but they need to contain isopropyl
or ethanol alcohol. And the amount of alcohol they contain is key. Some hand
sanitizers only contain 40 percent alcohol. That is not enough. To be effective,
hand sanitizers must contain at least 60 percent alcohol.
Hand sanitizers are used without water. To apply correctly, place a drop
(about the size of a dime) on the palm of one hand. Rub both hands together in
order to spread the product onto all surfaces of the hands, including the
fingers. Continue until the hands are dry. This process should take
approximately 20 seconds. If it doesn't take that long, then the amount of
sanitizer used was insufficient.