Washington D.C, Sept 18: A new study has linked the ancient Chinese exercise Tai Chi to improved physical capacity among older adults with certain common long term conditions.
Among people with breast cancer, heart failure, osteoarthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), these improvements were not at the expense of worsening pain or breathlessness, the findings show.
Tai Chi consists of slow, gentle, flowing movements that aim to boost muscle power, balance, and posture. It also includes mindfulness, relaxation, and breath control.
The results showed that Tai Chi was associated with trends, or definite improvement, in physical capacity and muscle strength in most or all four long term conditions.
This included improvements in the six minute walking test; muscle strength, as measured by bending and stretching the knees; the time it takes to get up and move known as the TUG test; and quality of life.
Tai Chi was also associated with an improvement in the symptoms of pain and stiffness in osteoarthritis and in breathlessness in COPD. And it was associated with improved sit to stand times among patients with osteoarthritis.
The study is published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.