Tai chi may help slow down the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease for several years, a Chinese study suggests.
Those who practised the martial art twice a week had fewer complications and better quality of life than those who didn’t, the researchers say.
Parkinson’s is a progressive brain disease which leads to tremors and slow movement, and there is no cure.
Experts say the findings back up previous studies on the benefits of exercise for those with Parkinson’s.
The study, from Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, monitored the health of hundreds of Parkinson’s patients for up to five years.
One group of 147 people practised regular tai chi while another group of 187 did not.
The traditional Chinese exercise combines slow, gentle movements with deep breathing and relaxation.
The charity Parkinson’s UK describes tai chi as a low-intensity physical activity that can “help to lift your mood and help you live well”.
The researchers found that the disease progressed more slowly in the tai chi group on measurements of symptoms, movement and balance.
This group also saw fewer falls, less back pain and dizziness, with memory and concentration problems also lower than in the other group.
At the same time, sleep and quality of life continuously improved.