Tai Chi & Health

Tai Chi promotes health, longevity, balance and a sense of overall well-being. Tai Chi exercise maintains good health to prevent illness. The movements help relieve the symptoms of physical stress. The meditative movements help focus and calm the mind.

Practicing Tai Chi does not cure any illness. It allows the body to heal itself naturally by opening the blockages in the body’s circulation systems. Blockages are caused by stress, physical as well as mental, and by the tightening of muscles.

Prolonged poor circulation of blood, digestive, lymphatic, respiratory and nervous systems as well as “chi meridians” of the body will cause illnesses. Practicing tai chi in a slow, balanced, relaxed and meditative way will improve these circulations. With good circulation and with time the body will recover naturally.

So tai chi does not help any particular kind of illness. It helps all kinds. 

The health benefits of Tai Chi have been well studied and documented over many years. The following summary details some the research of the therapeutic effects attributed to the regular practice of Tai Chi. Note that there are no claims of cures but an overall improvement of health in the areas of:

Cardiorespiratory Function

Blood Pressure

Postural Stability/ Balance

Bone Density

Muscular Skeletal Strength

Reduction of Arthritis Pain

Mental Wellbeing

Stress Reduction

Immune Function

Sleep Patterns

Improvement of health and fitness in the elderly - cardiorespiratory function, strength and flexibility

K Channer, D Barrow, P Barrow, M Osbourne, G Ives, Changes in hemodynamic parameters following tai chi chuan and aerobic exercise in patients recovering from acute myocardial infarction. Fellowship of Post Graduate Medicine, 1996; 72, 349:351

S Jong, Y Fang, Y Chao, The effect of Tai-Chi-Qi-Gong exercises on pulmonary function, exercise capacity, and quality of life after lobectomy. Hu Li Za Zhi, 2004; 51:46-54. 

Ching Lan, Jin-Shin Lai, Ssu-Yuan Chen, and May-Kuen Wong,  “12 month Tai Chi training in the elderly: its effect on health fitness”, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 1998; 30(#3): 345-351

C Lan, JS Lai, MK Wong, ML Yu, Cardiorespiratory function, flexibility, and body composition among geriatric Tai Chi Chuan practitioners,  Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 1996;77(6):612-6.  

Gloria Yeh, Malissa Wood, Beverly Lorell, Lynne Stevenson, David Eisenberg, Peter Wayne, Ary Goldberger, Roger Davis, Russell Phillips,  Effects of Tai Chi Mind-Body Movement Therapy on Functional Status and Exercise Capacity in Patients with Chronic Heart Failure: A Randomized Controlled Trial,”  The American Journal of Medicine, 2004; 117: 541-548

Y Hong, J Li, P Robinson, Balance control, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness among older Tai Chi practitioners. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 34, 29-34.

J Lai , C Lan, MK Wong, SH Teng. Two-year trends in cardiorespiratory function among older Tai Chi Chuan practitioners and sedentary subjects. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 1995;43(11):1222-7

D Schneider & R. Leung. Metabolic and cardiorespiratory response to the performance of wing chun and tai chi chuan exercise, International Journal of Sports Medicine, 1991; 12, 319:322

Improvement on Blood Pressure

Deborah R. Young, Lawrence J. Appel, Sun-Ha Jee, “The Effects of Aerobic Exercise and Tai Chi on Blood Pressure in the Elderly,” Abstracts of the 38th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, 1998, 97(#8): 54.

Gloria Yeh, Chenchen Wang, Peter Wayne, Russell Phillips, The Effect of Tai Chi Exercise on Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review, Preventive Cardiology, 2008; 11(2): 82- 89.

Everard Thornton, Kevin Sykes, Wai Tang. Health benefits of Tai Chi exercise: improved balance and blood pressure in middle-aged woman. Health Promotion International, 2004, 19(1):33-38.

DR Young,  LJ Appel,  S Jee, ER Miller, The effects of aerobic exercise and T'ai Chi on blood pressure in older people: results of a randomized trial, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 1999;47(3):277-84. 

The effect of Tai Chi and Postural Stability/ Balance 

L Gillespie, M Robertson, W Gillespie, S Lamb, S Gatts,  R Cumming, B Rowe, Interventions for preventing falls in older people living in the community, Cochrane Database System Review, 2009; 2: CD007146

F Li, P Harmer, R Glasgow et. al. Translation of an effective tai chi intervention into a community based falls prevention program, American Journal of Public Health, 2008; 12: 2118

Steven Wolf, L. Barnhart, W Huiman, X Ellison, Gary Coogler, “The effect of Tai Chi Quan and Computerized Balance Training on Postural Stability in Older Subjects,” Atlanta FICSIT Group, Physical Therapy, 1997; 77 – 4

Improvement of Bone Density

Chan, K., Qin, L., Lau, M., Woo, J., Au, S., Chou, W., Lee, K  & Lee, S.  A randomized, prospective study of the effects of Tai Chi Chuan exercise on bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 2004; 85: 717-22 

Peter Wayne, Douglas Kiel, David Krebs, Rober Davis, Jacqueline Savetsky-German, Maureen Connelly, Julie Buring, The Effects of Tai Chi on Bone Mineral Density in Postmenopausal Woman: A Systematic Review, The American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 2007; 88: 673-680

Increased muscular-skeletal strength

Jacobson B., Chen H., Cashel C., Guerrero L., The Effect of Tai Chi Chuan training andaveraged velocity of sway, Perceptual Motor Skill, 1997, 84: 27-33.

Lan C., Lai Chen, Wong M. Tai Chi Chuan to improve muscular strength and endurance in elderly individuals - a pilot study. Archive of Physical Medicine Rehabilitation, 2000, 81:601-7

J Levandoski, G Leyshon, Tai Chi exercise and the elderly, Clinical Kinesiology, 1990; 44(2): 39-44

Reduction of Arthritis Pain

C Hartmann, T Manos, C Winter, D Hartman B Li, J Smith, Effects of tai chi training on function and quality of life indicators in older adults with osteoarthritis, Journal of American Geriatrics Society, 2000; 48:15539

C Wang, C Schmid, P Hibberd, R Kalish, R Roubenoff, R Rones T McAlindon, Tai Chi is Effective in Treating Knee Osteoarthritis. A Randomized Controlled Trial, Arthritis Care & Research, 2009; DOI: 10.1002/Art.24832

Reduction in stress and anxiety

R Abbott, K Hui, M Li, T Pan, A randomized controlled trial of tai chi for tension headaches, Evidence based Complementary Alternative Medicine, 2007; 4(1): 107-113

T Esch, J Duckstein, J Welke, V Braun, Mind body techniques for physiological and psychological stress reduction: stress management via tai chi training – a pilot study, Medical Science Monitor, 2007; 13(11): CR488-497

P Jin, Changes in Heart Rate, noradrenaline, cortisol and mood during Tai Chi. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 1989; 33: 197-206

P Jin, Efficacy of tai chi, brisk walking, meditation and reading in reducing mental and emotional stress, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 1992; 36 (4): 361-370

M Ross, J Presswalker, The therapeutic effects of tai chi for the elderly, Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 1998; 45-47

ES Sandlund,T Norlander. The effects of Tai Chi Chuan relaxation and exercise on stress response and well being: an overall research. International Journal of Stress Management, 2000; 7 :139-149

M Weisner, I Kutz, S Kutz, D Weisner, Psychotherapeutic aspects of the martial arts, American Journal of Psychotherapy, 1995; 49(1): 118-127

Enhance Immune function

Galantino, M., Shepard, K., Krafft, L., Laperriere, A., Ducette, J., Sorbello, A., Barnish, M., Condoluci, D. & Farrar, J. The effects of group aerobic exercise and tai chi on functional outcomes and quality of life for persons living with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2005; 11, 1085-92. 

Irwin, M., Pike, J., Cole, J. & Oxman, M.  Effects of a behavioral intervention of Tai Chi on varicella-zoster virus specific immunity and health functioning in older adults, Psychosomatic Medicine, 2003; 65: 824-30. 

Yeh, S., Chuang, H., Lin, L., Hsiao, C. & Eng, H.  Regular tai chi exercise enhances functional mobility and CD4CD25 regulatory T cells, British Journal of Sports Medicine, (2006); 40: 239-43. 

Better Sleep Patterns

Li, F., Fisher, K., Harmer, P., Irbe, D., Tearse, R. & Weimer, C.  Tai chi and self-rated quality of sleep and daytime sleepiness in older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 2004; 5: 892-900.