Tai Chi can be an effective exercise therapy for those suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), says new report.
The study, published online today (09 August 2012) before appearing in print in the European Respiratory Journal, indicates Tai Chi can improve exercise capacity and the quality of life for those with COPD and may also help with in rehabilitation from pulmonary diseases.
It is already recognised that moderate exercise can help COPD patients improve breathlessness and their overall quality of life. This new study set out to see if Sun-style Tai chi can be a worthwhile form of exercise therapy.
Sun-style Tai Chi is believed to help those with chronic conditions such as arthritis. The fact that it features less strenuous movements than other forms of martial arts makes it suitable people of all ages.
Researchers at Sydney's Concord Repatriation General Hospital and the University of Sydney studied 42 COPD sufferers. Half took Tai Chi lessons twice a week and performed Tai Chi at home. The rest followed their normal medical treatment, without exercising.
The exercise capacity of those taking part was measured with a walking test. Those taking part also filled in a Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire that asked how the disease affected their quality of life. The intensity of Tai Chi exercise was measured to find out if it met the training requirements that are suggested for COPD patients.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease illustration - COPD image; Credit: © Shutterstock
The study found that those on the Tai Chi exercise training walked significantly longer than those just taking medication. The questionnaire results also showed they had a better quality of life.
The Tai Chi exercise was moderate, which means that it is suitable for people with COPD and meets recommended requirements.
Regina Wai Man Leung, of the Concord Repatriation General Hospital, who was the main author of the study, says: "With increasing numbers of people being diagnosed with COPD, it is important to provide different options for exercise that can be tailored to suit each individual. The results from this small sample provide compelling evidence that Tai Chi is an effective training programme for patients with COPD, and could be considered as an alternative to the usual exercise training programmes that are available in pulmonary rehabilitation."
You can see the full research paper, Short-form Sun-style Tai Chi as an exercise training modality in people with COPD, DOI: 10.1183/09031936.00036912, written by Regina Leung, Zoe McKeough, Matthew Peters and Jennifer Alison here, however a subscription is required.