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Simple Movement May Block Shingles

Tai chi chih protects older people from immune disease

THURSDAY, Sept. 25, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Tai chi chih -- a simple combination of meditation and movement -- may protect older people from shingles.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles measured the immune cells that fight shingles in a group of 36 Southern California residents over 60 years old. Shingles is a painful rash caused by reactivation of the chickenpox virus. Resistance to the disease weakens as people age.

The immune cell levels in the 18 people who practiced tai chi chih for 15 weeks increased about 50 percent, says the study, which appears in the September issue of Psychosomatic Medicine. Their ability to move around also improved, especially among those who'd had trouble walking and climbing stairs before the program started, the study says.

Determining how long the increased immunity lasts and whether tai chi chih might boost immunity to other diseases requires more study, the researchers say.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about shingles.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, Sept. 22, 2003
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