Saturday, August 18, 2012

Tai Chi improves health and quality of life for COPD sufferers

Credit: The Malaysian Insider

Tai Chi can be used as an effective form of exercise therapy for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)*, according to new findings.

It is well known that moderate forms of exercise can help COPD patients to improve their exercise tolerance, symptoms of breathlessness and their overall quality of life.

The most comprehensive and conclusive study of its kind, published in the European Respiratory Journal, suggests that Sun-style Tai Chi is more effective than usual medical care and may be as beneficial, as the traditional exercise of standard pulmonary rehabilitation.

This form of Tai Chi (Sun-style) has been shown to help people with chronic conditions such as arthritis and involves less difficult movements enabling people of all ages to perform this martial art.

The research team worked with 42 people with COPD; half the group attended Tai Chi lessons twice a week and practised at home, and the other half followed their usual medical management, which did not include exercise.

The researchers tested the exercise capacity of all participants with a walking test and measured muscle strength and balance, as well as asking all participants to complete the Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire to give an indication of how quality of life is affected by the disease.

Compared to the group completing the usual medical management, participants completing the Tai Chi exercise performed 75 percent better in the walking test and had a significantly higher score in the questionnaire.

"Our results showed an improvement in exercise capacity and quality of life, but also in muscle strength and balance, which had never been shown in previous Tai Chi studies in people with COPD," says lead author, Regina Leung from the Concord Repatriation General Hospital, Sydney.

"Improvement in balance and muscle strength of the lower limbs is very important in reducing the risk of falls for people with COPD, who are generally more at risk as their balance tends to be worse than others in the same age group."

The results also showed that the intensity of the Tai Chi was moderate, which met the recommendations for exercise training for people with COPD.


The above story is based on the August 10, 2012 news release by the European Lung Foundation.

The research, which was published online ahead of print in the European Respiratory Journal:
 Leung R, McKeough Z, Peters M, Alison J. Short-form Sun-style Tai Chi as an exercise training modality in people with COPD. Eur Respir J,  published ahead of print 2012. DOI: 10.1183/09031936.00036912

Watch the traditional Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan, the 38 Step demonstrated on this video clip by Faye Yip.

We are unable to recommend any Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan classes in the Klang valley. But if you are interested in Tai Chi Qigong Shibashi, you can join us every Tuesdays and Fridays, 8.30pm at the courtyard of Hin Hua High School, Klang.

Tai Chi Qigong Shibashi is a Qigong which based on the philosophy of Tai Chi and extracts some of the best movements from the Yang style Tai Chi Chuan. It places emphasis on synchronizing the 18 movements with proper breathing techniques. It is a gentle, beautiful and flowing Qigong exercise routine that is both a joy to do and deeply relaxing. Instruction manual and other resources of this qigong available at for free download.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most common lung diseases. It makes it difficult to breathe. There are two main forms of COPD:
  • Chronic bronchitis, which involves a long-term cough with mucus
  • Emphysema, which involves destruction of the lungs over time
Most people with COPD have a combination of both conditions. Smoking is the leading cause of COPD.

Click HERE for more information on COPD. 

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