Improving lung function, which is crucial for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD – emphysema, chronic bronchitis), usually involves pulmonary rehabilitation. Now, a new study suggests Tai Chi, an ancient martial art that involves slow, methodical movements and significant levels of physical exertion, may be equivalent to pulmonary rehab for some people with COPD.
The study, conducted in China and published in Chest, involved 120 patients with COPD who had never used a bronchodilator. Study participants began daily indacaterol treatment and were randomly assigned to two groups. One group received traditional pulmonary rehab and the other received classes in Tai Chi.
According to researchers, both groups showed similar improvements in Saint Georges Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) scores – a standard measurement of lung function used in people with COPD – but after 12 weeks, SGRQ scores, as well as a six-minute walk test, were significantly improved in the Tai Chi group.