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Tai Chi improves mental health in elderly: study

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A review of medical studies gave the thumbs-up on to Tai Chi as a way of improving mental health in the elderly, but does not confirm other claims made for the Chinese martial art.

British and South Korean researchers looked at 35 assessments of Tai Chi found in English-language, Chinese and Korean databases.

There was “convincingly positive” evidence that, among the elderly, practicising Tai Chi helped sense of balance and boosted psychological wellbeing.

However, the sport “seems to be ineffective” for treating the symptoms of cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, the authors said.

The evidence was contradictory as to whether tai chi improved high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, muscle strength, osteoporosis and other conditions.

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Many studies were flawed because they had a poor design or were at high risk of bias. For instance, they enrolled only small numbers of volunteers or lacked an adequate “control” group to ensure a fair comparison.

The overview was conducted by Myeong Soo Lee of the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine in Daejeon, and Edzard Ernst of the University of Exeter, southwestern England.

It appears in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, published by the British Medical Association (BMA).

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Tai Chi entails regular practice of deep breathing and relaxation techniques, combined with slow and gentle movements.

It is based on tenets in Confucian and Buddhist philosophies that there are two opposing life forces, yin and yang, which govern health.

Ill health results from an imbalance in these forces, but it can be corrected by Tai Chi, according to these beliefs.


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Fifty years after Moon mission, Apollo astronauts meet at historic launchpad

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Fifty years ago on Tuesday, three American astronauts set off from Florida for the Moon on a mission that would change the way we see humanity's place in the universe.

The crew's surviving members, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, are set to reunite at the same launchpad on Tuesday, the start of a week-long series of events commemorating Apollo 11.

Their commander and the first man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, passed away in 2012.

But Aldrin and Collins, 89 and 88 respectively, will meet Tuesday at precisely 9:32 am (1332 GMT) at the Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A to kick off the festivities.

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At 82, NASA pioneer Sue Finley still reaching for the stars

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Sue Finley began work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as the US prepared to launch its first satellite into orbit in 1958, racing to match the Soviet Union, which had accomplished the feat months earlier.

Now 82, she is one of NASA's longest-serving women, starting out as one of its "human computers," whose critical yet long-hidden contributions to the space program, including the Apollo missions to the Moon, are finally being recognized.

Finley had dropped out of college and joined a group of mathematically gifted individuals, overwhelmingly women, whose job it was to solve the complex equations thrown at them by rocket scientists before electronic computing became affordable and reliable.

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Fireflies’ glow could soon be extinguished by human actions

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Species’ extinction rates are accelerating on a global scale. We need solutions that match the severity of the problem.

Say goodbye to one of the dreamiest things about childhood. In the Midwest, fireflies are dying off.

For many Americans, it’s hard to imagine summer nights without the magical glow of dozens of bioluminescent bodies fluttering above the grasses and fields, and lighting up the dark skies above.

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