Tai Chi helps combat shingles in elderly, study finds

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The traditional Chinese exercise of Tai Chi has been found to help improve balance and reduce falls in the elderly. Now researchers say it boosts the immune system in older adults, particularly against the virus that causes shingles.

Tai Chi may increase older adults' immunity to varicella-zoster virus, which causes both chicken pox and shingles, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of California at San Diego and the San Diego Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.

Researchers found that Tai Chi alone increased study participants' immunity to varicella as much as the vaccine typically produces in middle-aged adults. Tai Chi in combination with the vaccine produced about a 40% increase in immunity levels over that produced by the vaccine alone, according to the study. The study is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.