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Tai Chi Improves Metabolic Impairments Associated with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Mar 27, 2024

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a common condition that is characterized by metabolic impairments. Exercise therapy has proven effective in improving the physiological and psychological states of patients with T2DM; however, the influence of different exercise modalities on metabolic profiles is not fully understood.

A Chinese study published by an American journal, Public Library of Science one, in March 2024 aimed to investigate the metabolic changes associated with T2DM among patients and then to evaluate the potential physiological effects of different exercise modalities (Tai Chi and brisk walking) on their metabolic profiles.

This study included 20 T2DM patients and 11 healthy subjects. Patients were randomly allocated to either the Tai Chi or walking group to perform simplified 24-form Tai Chi or brisk walking (80-100 m/minute), with 90 minutes each time, three times per week for 12 weeks, for a total of 36 sessions. The healthy group maintained daily living habits without intervention.

Compared to the healthy group, T2DM patients exhibited metabolic disturbances in carbohydrates (fructose, mannose, galactose, glycolysis/gluconeogenesis), lipids (inositol phosphate), and amino acids (arginine, proline, cysteine, methionine, valine, leucine, and isoleucine) metabolism, including 20 differential metabolites in the serum and six in the urine.

After exercise, the glycemic results showed insignificant changes. However, patients who practiced Tai Chi showed significant improvements in their post-treatment metabolic profiles compared to baseline, with nine serum and six urine metabolites, including branch-chained amino acids (BCAAs); while those in the walking group had significantly altered nine serum and four urine metabolites concerning steroid hormone biosynthesis and arachidonic acid metabolism compared to baseline.

Conclusion: T2DM patients displayed impaired carbohydrate, lipid, and amino acid metabolism, and exercise therapy improved their metabolic health. Different modalities may act through different pathways. Tai Chi may improve disrupted BCAAs metabolism, whereas brisk walking mainly regulates steroid hormone biosynthesis and arachidonic acid metabolism.

By Tai Chi