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Tai Chi Effective Addition to Immunity Against Shingles, New Study Finds

By: Sam Gaines, Staff Writer

Older adults at risk of shingles may get as much immunity to the varicella-zoster virus (VCV) as the VCV vaccine provides by adding tai chi, the ancient Chinese exercise system, to their exercise program. But the new study from the National Institutes of Health also reports that tai chi appears to significantly increase the effectiveness of the varicella vaccine, as well, giving even greater immunity to those who receive the vaccine and participated in a tai chi program.

VCV causes both chickenpox and shingles. Shingles is a painful condition of the nerves that predominantly affects people over 50, especially those who had chickenpox in their youth.

The randomized, controlled clinical trail studied the effects of tai chi in a 16-week program, finding that tai chi greatly increased immunity in groups that participated in tai chi alone, and those that participated in tai chi and received the VCV vaccine.

Source: National Institutes of Health, April 2007

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