Practicing Tai Chi helps improve respiratory function in patients with COPD

Tai Chi offers a low-cost, easily accessible alternative to pulmonary rehabilitation, according to a new study in the journal CHEST®

Finding ways to help patients with COPD improve their functional status is an area of interest for pulmonary healthcare providers. Currently, pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is used where available to improve exercise capacity and quality of life, but the treatment requires access to trained staff and specialized facilities. A new study in the journal CHEST® looked at Tai Chi as a lower cost, more easily accessed treatment option. Investigators found that this slow, methodical form of exercise is equivalent to PR for improving respiratory function in patients with COPD.

Tai Chi, an ancient martial art that involves significant levels of physical exertion, is gaining popularity, especially among older people, across the globe. Originating in China, Tai Chi incorporates stretching, breathing, and coordinated movement and requires no special equipment. “Knowing the potential benefits of Tai Chi, we hypothesized that, in patients being treated with medication to manage their COPD symptoms, it could help improve the quality of life when compared to a course of classical western style PR,” noted Professor Nan-Shan Zhong, MD, State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Disease, Guangzhou, China.

The study tracked 120 patients with COPD in rural China who had never used a bronchodilator. After beginning daily treatment with indacaterol, subjects were randomly assigned to groups receiving traditional PR or Tai Chi. Both the Tai Chi and PR groups showed similar improvements in Saint Georges Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) scores, a standard measure of health status in patients with diseases causing airway obstruction. However, after twelve weeks, a clinically significant difference in SGRQ scores emerged favoring Tai Chi. Similar trends were noted in performance of a six-minute walk test.

“Tai Chi is an appropriate substitute for PR,” explained lead investigator Professor Yuan-Ming Luo, PhD, also of the State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Disease. “While neither training approach differed from the other by more than the minimal clinically important difference of four SGRQ points at the end of this 12-week study, an additional 12 weeks after discontinuation of formal training, improvements emerged in favor of Tai Chi in SGRQ score, six-minute walk distance, modified Medical Research Council dyspnea score, and quadriceps strength. We conclude that Tai Chi is equivalent to PR and may confer more sustained benefit.”

Read full article: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-04/e-ptc040418.php

       

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