Director of the Better Breathing Foundation, Dr Zoe McKeough, and her research colleagues at The University of Sydney and Concord Repatriation Hospital, Dr Regina Leung, Professor Jennifer Alison and Dr Matthew Peters, have published an article in the European Respiratory Journal examining the effects of Tai Chi in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

While it is well known that standard pulmonary rehabilitation programs of conventional exercise training such as cycling and treadmill walking and arm exercises improve exercise capacity and quality of life in people with COPD, there is a need to examine the effects of different exercise modalities to increase the availability of training to the growing numbers of people with COPD.

The study examined 42 people with COPD in a randomised controlled trial with half the cohort completing a 12 week program of Sun-style Tai Chi twice weekly and the other half continuing with usual medical management which did not include exercise training.

Results of the study indicated that, compared to the usual care group, the Tai Chi group significantly improved their exercise capacity as shown by walking for longer during a walk test. The Tai Chi group also had significantly better quality of life, balance and leg strength compared to the usual care group. The researchers also examined the intensity of training that was achieved with Tai Chi exercise showing the intensity to be at a moderate level. Consequently, the level of training with Tai Chi is in the correct range to achieve positive training effects.

This important research trial has now provided the necessary evidence to support the use of Tai Chi exercise as an appropriate training modality for people with COPD. Further research needs to be conducted examining the long-term effects of Tai Chi exercise as a maintenance intervention for this group.

The reference for this article is:

Title: Short-form Sun-style Tai Chi as an exercise training modality in people with COPD

Authors: Regina Leung, Zoe McKeough, Matthew Peters and Jennifer Alison

Journal: European Respiratory Journal 41 (5): 1051-1057 DOI: 10.1183/09031936.00036912

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