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Traditional Chinese exercises may increase efficacy of flu vaccine

Move on mosquitoes. Step aside sweat bees. Before long, another unwelcome, but predictable, pest will return: the dreaded, oft-spotted flu bug.

But as this years sniffling-sneezing season approaches, theres also a hint of hope present in the pre-germ-season air. In a study scheduled for publication in the August issue of the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, a team of kinesiologists at the University of Illinois suggest that older adults who adopt an exercise regimen combining Taiji and Qigong may get an extra boost from their annual flu shot.

We have found that 20 weeks of Taiji can increase the antibody response to influenza vaccine in older adults, said the studys lead author Yang Yang, an adjunct professor of kinesiology and community health, and a Taiji master with 30-plus years of experience as a practitioner and instructor.

In this study, we found that five months of an easily performed behavioral Taiji and Qigong intervention could improve the magnitude and duration of the HI anti-influenza antibody titer response in a small cohort of older adults, write the authors, who also include Karl S. Rosengren, a U. of I. professor of psychology and of kinesiology and community health, and Jeffrey A. Woods, a kinesiology and community health professor who researches the effects of exercise on immune function. Rosengren and Woods helped design the study. Other co-authors are former U. of I. graduate students Rachel A. Mariani and Jay Verkuilen, and Scott A. Grubisich and Michael Reed of the Center for Taiji Studies, Champaign.

According to Yang, one problem with the flu vaccine is that older adults often do not reach what are considered to be protective levels after receiving the vaccination.

On average, he said, the Taiji group had much higher antibody responses to the vaccination than the control group, and the percentage of persons who achieved protective levels also was higher in the Taiji group. However, be
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Contact: Melissa Mitchell
melissa@uiuc.edu
217-333-5491
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
13-Aug-2007


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