Heart Health

For mellow movement that helps your heart, try tai chi

Need a workout that's engaging but won't leave you feeling tired and sweaty? Tai chi may be just the ticket.

By , Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

photo of a diverse group of adults performing a movement in a tai chi class

Most people recognize that exercise is one of the best ways to boost cardiovascular health. But what if traditional exercise seems either too challenging or otherwise inaccessible — or maybe even boring? Or perhaps you're recovering from a heart attack or other medical problem and need to ease back into activity. If so, tai chi might be worth a try.

"Tai chi is a gentle, adaptable practice that features flowing movements combined with breathing and cognitive focus," says Dr. Peter Wayne, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and medical editor of the Harvard Special Health Report An Introduction to Tai Chi (/TC). The cardiovascular benefits likely stem from a combination of the physical and mental aspects of this ancient Chinese practice.

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About the Author

photo of Julie Corliss

Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

Julie Corliss is the executive editor of the Harvard Heart Letter. Before working at Harvard, she was a medical writer and editor at HealthNews, a consumer newsletter affiliated with The New England Journal of Medicine. She … See Full Bio
View all posts by Julie Corliss

About the Reviewer

photo of Christopher P. Cannon, MD

Christopher P. Cannon, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Heart Letter; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing

Dr. Christopher P. Cannon is editor in chief of the Harvard Heart Letter. He is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and senior physician in the Preventive Cardiology section of the Cardiovascular Division at … See Full Bio
View all posts by Christopher P. Cannon, MD

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As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

You might also be interested in…

An Introduction to Tai Chi

Mind-body exercises, such as tai chi and yoga, have been gaining popularity over the past few decades. This is not surprising, given the increasing number of studies on the positive effects of these gentler forms of exercise—everything from lowering blood pressure and managing depression to building strength and improving balance. There is even evidence that tai chi may help you live a longer, more vital life.

Read More

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