Physiological responses normally associated with involuntary autonomic thermoregulation can be voluntarily activated during a tai chi exercise. An experienced tai chi practitioner was asked to focus energy into, and then withdraw energy from the hands while being monitored using infrared-thermography (IR), thermocoupled thermometers and laser Doppler flowmetry. Trials consisted of three focus periods and one withdrawal period, each followed by a rest period. Substantial increases in local palmar and face surface temperatures were observed with IR during focus periods and substantial decreases were observed during the withdrawal period. Fingertip surface baseline temperatures were 31.1°C for one trial, increased by 1.8°C during the focus period, and then decreased by 4.9°C during the withdrawal period. A twofold increase in blood flow through fingertip regions paralleled changes in fingertip surface temperatures during focus periods. The American authors conclude that the changes in regional blood flow and surface temperature appear to be volitional activations of known skin vasomotor mechanisms which are not normally under voluntary control. (Physiologic correlates of t’ ai chi chuan. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Jan;17(1):77-81).

Comments closed.