Health Tips: Tai chi improves heart patients quality of life


After Lou Reed’s death, Laurie Anderson published a eulogy about her musician husband: “He died on Sunday morning looking at the trees and doing the famous 21 form of tai chi with just his musician hands moving through the air.” Reed was a longtime practitioner of the Chinese martial art, and Anderson said when her husband practiced the form, he was looking for magic.

Reed was onto something. Research suggests that tai chi can have lasting health benefits and is great for strengthening your mind-body connection. It can improve balance and coordination, and calm the mind, thanks to its focus on mindfulness, motion and breath. It has also been found to improve bone density and immune function. According to research recently published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, this mind-body exercise is linked to a boost in both mood and quality of life in people with cardiovascular disease. 

That’s something that many of the nation’s 121.5 million people with cardiovascular disease can certainly benefit from. Nearly a quarter of those folks suffer from depression, and symptoms of heart disease, such as shortness of breath, can lead to lower quality of life. The new study found practicing tai chi can alleviate such symptoms. 

So, if you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, one way to safely and enjoyably increase physical activity and decrease stress is to take up tai chi. Google “online Tai Chi instruction” for a lot of free resources, and check out for in depth info and videos on the practice.  

An attitude adjustment might help prevent dementia

Remember the seven dwarfs from the 1937 Disney classic “Snow White”? Well, turns out Grumpy was setting himself up for big problems down the road, according to new research published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia. Chronic repetitive negative thinking, RNT, is associated with memory decline and brain deposits of amyloid tangles and tau protein, which are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. 

The researchers evaluated the RNT of a subset of study participants and found that it didn’t increase as the signs of Alzheimer’s did. Says head researcher Dr. Natalie Marchant, “The data support the hypothesis that RNT may be a risk factor for, rather than an early symptom of, dementia.” 

RNT may contribute to Alzheimer’s because of stress associated with negative thinking, which can damage cognition. Stress also plays a role in amyloid- and tau-related brain changes. Fortunately, you can become less Grumpy. 

-- Research shows that taking small steps, like smiling more (even for no reason), boosts your mood. So does adopting good posture. If you slump, you grump! 

-- Focus on what you feel grateful for. Do one kind act a day. It may be helping a stranger with a package, calling your grandmother, doing volunteer work for a local charity or going out of your way to help a friend.

-- Give yourself happy moments. A study in The Journal of Positive Psychology (of course!) found that trying to make yourself happier does just that! For example, if you know you like a certain song, play it to boost your mood -- and it will.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit


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