Tai Chi Chuan modulates heart rate variability during abdominal breathing in elderly adults

Gao Xia Wei*, You Fa Li, Xiao Lin Yue, Xiao Ma, Yu Kai Chang, Long Yan Yi, Jing Cheng Li, Xi Nian Zuo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) practice is currently intentionally applied in clinical populations, especially those with cardiovascular diseases because of its potential benefits on the autonomic nervous system. The long-term effect of TCC practice on heart rate variability (HRV) remains largely unknown. In this study, we recruited 23 TCC practitioners whose experience averaged approximately 21 years and 19 controls matched by age, sex and education to examine the effect of TCC practice on the autonomic nervous system during a resting state and during an abdominal breathing state. HRV was measured by traditional electrocardiogram (ECG) recording. The results showed that the low frequency, total power frequency, and normalized low frequency components and the low-frequency/high-frequency ratio were significantly higher, whereas the normalized high frequency was significantly lower in the TCC practitioners relative to controls during the abdominal breathing state. However, we did not detect any significant difference in the HRV measures during the resting state between the two groups. Additionally, TCC experience did not correlate with HRV components either in the abdominal state or the resting state in the TCC group. Considering all of these findings, we suggest that TCC improves vagal activity and the balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic activity during the relaxation state. This study also provides direct physiological evidence for the role of TCC practice in relaxation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-77
Number of pages9
JournalPsyCh Journal
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar 1
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Tai Chi Chuan
  • Breathing
  • Extensive training
  • Frequency domain analysis
  • Heart rate variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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