Tai Chi exercises can help people with type 2 diabetes control their condition, research suggests.
Two separate studies found a 12-week programme of exercise was enough to boost the immune system, and to cut blood sugar levels. The traditional Chinese martial art combines deep breathing and gentle movement to boost relaxation levels.
Both studies, by researchers in Taiwan and Australia, appear in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Around 1.8 million people in the UK have type 2 diabetes and another 750,000 are thought to be undiagnosed.
The first study, by a team in Taiwan, compared 30 people with diabetes with 30 healthy people acting as controls. Over 12 weeks the participants learned 37 Tai Chi movements under the guidance of an expert, and took home a video to study the correct poses. They took part in three hour-long sessions a week.
At the end of the programme, tests on the group with type 2 diabetes showed a drop in their blood sugar levels, and a boost in the level of cells and chemicals key to a healthy immune response.
Strenuous physical activity is known to depress the immune system, but the latest study suggests that more moderate exercise may have the opposite effect.
Source - BBC