New Study: Tai Chi Helps Improve Endurance, Balance, and Wellbeing of COPD Patients

By Helen Holmes on August 13, 2012

COPD, a serious lung disease that makes it hard for a person to breathe, affects a significant portion of the UK population. This condition can get in the way of even the simplest tasks such as walking or doing light house chores. The problem is that there is no cure for COPD until today. There are ways however that can help manage this disease. On a new study, scientists looked into the effects of practising sun-style Tai Chi, also called the ‘meditation in motion’, to COPD patients.

The study involved 42 patients of different ages, the oldest being 73. Half of the participants attended a regular one-hour session of Tai Chi twice a week, while the other group went through a standard rehabilitation program. Those in the Tai Chi group had the therapy for 30 minutes at home when there were no classes. The therapy featured 21 forms of exercises, as well as controlled breathing techniques.

Prior the study however, the researchers assessed how long the participants were able to walk without feeling breathless. They also measured their balance, the strength of their quadriceps, and their total physical performance.

Benefits of Tai Chin in Patients with COPD

After 12 weeks of therapy, the Tai Chi grouped started experiencing positive effects from the said therapy. They reported being able to walk longer distances without running out of air. They also demonstrated an improvement in the quality of life.

The Tai Chi group were able to walk 60 years farther, and for 348 seconds longer than the control group. Their sense of balance, as well as the strength of their quadriceps has significantly improved too. Problems with balance and quadriceps are the major risk factors for falls in patients with COPD, the researchers pointed out. These aspects however, didn’t seem to improve with pulmonary rehabilitation program – the conventional management therapy given to COPD sufferers.

The positive effects of Tai Chi didn’t stop there. The patients who had the training also reported an increase in their quality of life. They had lower anxiety levels and felt better than the other study participants.

Tai Chi is an excellent therapy choice for COPD patients, the researchers say. They were from the University of Sydney, headed by Regina Wai Man Leung of Concord Repatriation General Hospital.

The best things about Tai Chi

Tai Chi involves gentle, low-impact movements which makes it a great exercise option for people with COPD particularly those who are in their later years. As compared to other forms, the sun-style Tai Chi (SSTC) has less difficult movements such as single-leg standing and deep-knee bending – routines that even older people can do.

Because of the strong evidences provided by the study, the researchers suggest that Tai Chi can be an effective alternative therapy for managing COPD.


Source of this article:

Short-form Sun-style Tai Chi as an exercise training modality in people with COPD, European Respiratory Journal


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