Tai Chi Can Build Strength, Ease Pain with Chronic Conditions
The slow and gentle movements of the ancient Chinese exercise of Tai chi can be an effective way for people with chronic health conditions to build strength and lower pain, according to a new analysis published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
A research team at the University of British Columbia analyzed 33 studies that looked at the effects of Tai chi among people with four chronic conditions: cancer, heart failure, osteoarthritis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
They found that after Tai chi sessions, performance on a six-minute walking test improved for both heart failure and COPD patient. Tai chi also improved knee strength in one heart failure study and one COPD study.
Tai chi also helped to decrease depression in heart failure patients, although stress management worked better than Tai chi for cancer patients. Tai chi did not improve blood pressure in heart failure patients.
For osteoarthritis patients, the time taken to stand up, overall physical function, and general quality of life significantly improved with Tai chi. Symptoms of pain and stiffness were also reduced.
Tai chi is a set of exercises that emphasize breathing control, whole body exercises with bent knees and slow, flowing movements. In addition to strength, it can help to improve posture, balance and concentration.