Researchers at UCLA have completed a study that suggests performing tai chi on a regular basis may help ward off shingles – a viral infection that causes a painful rash that can lead to complications. Shingles is caused by the virus herpes zoster, which is the virus that causes chicken pox. Adults who have had chicken pox in childhood are particularly at risk for shingles because the virus lies dormant in the nerves for decades only to appear as shingles when the immune system has become weakened in later adulthood (most often the disease occurs in people 50 and older). An estimated 1 million people in the U.S. are afflicted with shingles every year. Performing tai chi (something that millions of people in China do every day), appears to boost the immune system, thus keeping the dormant virus from breaking out into shingles. “These are exciting findings, because the positive results of this study also have implications for other infectious diseases, like influenza and pneumonia,” said Michael Irwin, who is also director of the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology. For information on other health benefits of tai chi, click here.