Tai Chi Improves Lung Function for COPD Patients

Results from a new study show regular Tai Chi practice can improve lung function and quality of life in patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

According to new findings, a form of Tai Chi known as Sun-style Tai Chi, can be used as an effective form of exercise therapy for those who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The research will be published in an upcoming issues of the European Respiratory Journal, and proposed that Tai Chi can improve exercise capacity as well as quality of life for those with COPD.

There are known forms of exercise shown to help COPD patients improve their exercise capacity, breathing symptoms, and overall quality of life, but this new study’s purpose was to determine if Sun-style Tai Chi could also be used an effective form of exercise therapy. Sun-style Tai Chi is a form of martial arts that has also demonstrated an ability to help people who suffer from conditions such as arthritis. Sun-style Tai Chi requires movements that are less difficult than typical Tai Chi exercises, and many ages are capable of performing this style.1

Researchers at the Concord Repatriation General Hospital and the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia worked with 42 patients with COPD. Each participant underwent assessment to determine exercise capacity (done through a walking test), and completed the Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire (which indicates the effect COPD has on quality of life). One half of the group attended Tai Chi lessons twice weekly, and also performed it at home. The Tai Chi training that participants performed met the moderate intensity requirements of exercise training for people afflicted with COPD. The remaining half of the group continued on with their usual medical management protocol, which did not include exercise.2

Upon completion of the study, the results showed those who participated in the Tai Chi exercises walked significantly longer than they had in the initial walking test, compared to those who did not perform any exercise therapy. Those who performed the Tai Chi training also displayed higher scores on the questionnaire, which indicated an improvement in quality of life.3

Lead study author, Regina Wai Man Leung from the Concord Repatriation General Hospital, said:

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 program for patients with COPD, and could be considered as an alternative to the usual exercise training programs that are available in pulmonary rehabilitation.4

Previous studies have also shown Tai Chi capable of increasing brain size, therefore lowering the risk of dementia and other brain related diseases. As more research develops the wisdom of Tai Chi continues to develop increasing scientific backing.

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