Tai chi can help lower your blood pressure even more than intense cardio, new research suggests

  • Tai chi, a type of Chinese martial art, can help lower blood pressure more than cardio like running.

  • The calming effect of tai chi may make it more effective, according to researchers.

  • The low-impact, gentle exercises can be a safe, healthy workout for all ages and fitness levels.

A gentle, low-impact form of exercise may help keep your heart healthy and lower your blood pressure even more than hitting the treadmill, new research suggests.

Tai chi, a Chinese martial art with slow, meditative movements, was found to help people at risk of hypertension to reduce their blood pressure, according to a study published February 9 in JAMA Network Open.

Doctors at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences worked with researchers from several universities and hospitals in Beijing to study 342 people at risk of high blood pressure (known as prehypertension).

The study participants ranged in age from 18 to 65 and followed an exercise program for a year. Half the group were randomly assigned to do tai chi, while the other group did cardio exercises such as jogging or cycling. Both groups did their assigned exercise four days a week for an hour each day.

Within six months, participants who did tai chi saw more improvements in their blood pressure than the cardio group. By the end of the year, the tai chi group had even lower blood pressure, and were significantly more likely to have a healthy blood pressure than their cardio-trained peers, according to the researchers.

They speculated that the extra benefits of tai chi may be related to its calming effect since previous evidence suggests it can significantly reduce stress, boost mood, and help prevent anxiety.

While more research is needed to understand how it works, the latest study suggests tai chi could be a safe, effective strategy for people of all ages to improve their blood pressure toward healthy levels.

Although participants in the study exercised for four hours a week, some evidence suggests short bursts of activity can also help lower blood pressure.

If you're not sure where to start, try this 10-minute morning routine from Dr. Kien Vuu, a longevity specialist who does qigong, a type of mindful movement that includes tai chi exercise.

Vuu previously told Business Insider that even a few minutes of daily exercise can add up to helping you live a longer, healthier life.

"Just five minutes is enough to get the energy going," he said.

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