Tai Chi 'can relieve depression and boost self-esteem'
The sedate Chinese martial art of Tai Chi can relieve depression and boost self-esteem, new research shows.
Practising the precise movements also reduced stress and anxiety, researchers found.
Millions of people around the world practise Tai Chi every morning, and many believe that it has physical and mental health benefits.
It is particularly popular in China where many flock to public parks to start their day with the slow, methodical movements.
It is designed to promote relaxation and improve balance, strength and suppleness.
Researchers looked at the results of 40 studies on the effects of the martial art.
They found that it did have positive psychological effects, but called for more thorough research.
Dr Chenchen Wang, from Tufts Tufts University School of Medicine in Massachusetts, said: "Tai Chi ... has been practised for centuries for health and fitness in the East and is currently gaining popularity in the West.
“It is believed to improve mood and enhance overall psychological well being, but convincing evidence has so far been lacking".
She added: "More detailed knowledge about the physiological and psychological effects of Tai Chi exercise may lead to new approaches to promote health, treat chronic medical conditions, better inform clinical decisions and further explicate the mechanisms of successful mind-body medicine".
Previous studies have suggested that it could be helpful in the treatment of arthritis, but the results were unclear.