Tai Chi can serve as an effective means of exercise training in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to new research from Australia.
"The improvement in balance, together with the significant improvement in lower limb quadriceps strength after Tai Chi training, shows that short-form Sun-style Tai Chi has the potential to reduce falls in people with COPD," Regina Wai Man Leung from the University of Sydney said.
"This is the first randomised controlled trial to show significant improvements in balance with any form of exercise training in people with COPD," she said. Leung and colleagues tested 12 weeks of short-form Sun-style Tai Chi in a randomised study of 38 patients with COPD.
Findings at the end of the study
At the end of the study, as reported in the online European Respiratory Journal, endurance shuttle walk test time and incremental shuttle walk distance improved significantly in the Tai Chi group, compared with the control group.
The Tai Chi group also showed significant improvements in body sway, functional reach distance, physical performance, quadriceps strength, quality of life, anxiety scores, and self-efficacy scores, compared with controls.
Perceived exertion during the endurance shuttle walk test was significantly less in the Tai Chi group than in the control group. In a subgroup of patients tested, the Tai Chi program elicited a moderate level of exercise intensity of 53% of VO2 reserve.
Importance of excising
"Exercise training is one of the most effective strategies for the management of people with COPD, and it should be offered as a part of the standard treatment in people with COPD," Leung said.
She noted, "Tai Chi can be easily performed in local community venues and is easily modified to accommodate individual needs. As a result, it may overcome some of the barriers to (attending) traditional pulmonary rehabilitation."
(Reuters Health, Will Boggs, August 2012)
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