Posts Tagged ‘bmd’

Tai Chi and Green Tea Boost Bone Health, and More

Low-impact exercises such as walking can reduce rates of bone loss in women with low bone density (osteopenia) or the bone-wasting disease osteoporosis, and regular exercise can induce changes in bone mineral density (BMD) within a few months.

But many post-menopausal women just don’t do conventional exercises, either due to health factors or a lack of sustained interest, among other reasons.

A novel low-impact weight-bearing exercise like Tai Chi, along with drinking green tea, may be their answer.

A new study of 171 women with osteopenia found that doing Tai Chi three times a week and consuming the equivalent of 4-6 cups of green tea a day significantly enhanced bone health and muscle strength after 6 months.

What’s more, Tai Chi and green tea seem to work in synergy to reduce oxidative stress, which is one of the precursors to inflammation and may be an underlying cause of osteoporosis as well as other inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, reported Dr. Chwan-Li (Leslie) Shen, associate professor at the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, at the Experimental Biology 2011 meeting in Washington, DC on April 10.

Dr. Shen led a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial – the gold standard of medical studies – that divided the women into 4 groups.

One group took 500 mg a day of green tea polyphenols, which is the active ingredient in green tea, and did no Tai Chi.

A second group took Tai Chi classes 3 times a week and a sugar pill daily.

A third group took Tai Chi classes and the green tea pills.

A fourth, control group did no Tai Chi and took sugar pills.

In addition to benefits to bones, Dr. Shen said those who took Tai Chi classes also reported significant improvements in their emotional and mental health.

Preliminary studies from Asia suggest Tai Chi can reduce rates of BMD decline in post-menopausal women.

Tai Chi has also been shown to improve balance, reduce falls in older women, and increase bone strength – all important ways to prevent fractures from low bone density.

Tai Chi doesn’t require any equipment, it’s relatively inexpensive, and it’s easily incorporated into daily life. Add in some cups of green tea each day and you may just stave off the effects of low bone density.