Harvard Health Letter

In Brief: Tai chi gives immune system a boost

In Brief

Tai chi gives immune system a boost

Fighting off diseases is a young person's game. With age, our immune systems become less nimble and not quite as ruthless. The number of T cells drop. The B cells also start to wind down, making fewer antibodies that respond to outside intruders and more errant ones that turn on the body itself.

As a result, even those of us who age gracefully are more vulnerable to getting sick as we tack on the years. What's more, our immune systems don't respond as vigorously to the vaccinations — such as the annual flu shot — that we get to prevent some of those illnesses.

Small studies have yielded some evidence that exercise seems to re-energize the immune system, so when UCLA researchers decided to test whether tai chi might do the same, they weren't starting from scratch. On the other hand, the slow, controlled movements of tai chi aren't a typical form of exercise.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »