Sometimes, the gentlest movements can have the biggest impact -- especially when it comes to your health.

And if you're looking for the gentlest way to give your body a boost, try the graceful motions and rhythmic breathing exercises of tai chi.

This ancient martial art can help beat everything from physical pain to depression -- and new studies show how it can help speed recovery in heart failure patients, reduce the risk of falls, and even improve your mental health.

In one of those studies, researchers recruited 100 chronic heart failure patients and randomly assigned them to either heart education or tai chi classes twice a week for three months.

The researchers say those who took the tai chi classes had significant improvements in mood and quality of life, were better able to handle daily activities, and had more confidence when it came to exercise.

Researchers say depression scores fell in the tai chi group from 2 down to 0. Those in the heart classes, on the other hand, actually saw their depression scores rise from 3 to 4.

Those who took tai chi saw improvements in vigor, while those in the heart classes, again, had setbacks.

And the researchers wrote in the Archives of Internal Medicine that those who took tai chi classes loved it enough to keep at it: More than 75 percent stayed with it through the end of the study, and many were actually still doing it when researchers checked in six months later.

The best news of all is that tai chi is cheap, easy to find and even easier to practice.

You might not even break a sweat!

If you're interested, check your local senior centers, community halls and parks -- odds are, there's a class near you... and they're always looking for new students.