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Tai Chi Aids Physical Performance in Chronic Conditions

Improvement or tendency toward improvement in heart failure, osteoarthritis, cancer, COPD

FRIDAY, Sept. 18, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Tai chi has a favorable effect on physical performance in four chronic conditions, according to a review and meta-analysis published online Sept. 17 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Yi-Wen Chen, from the University of British Columbia in Canada, and colleagues conducted a systematic review to summarize evidence relating to tai chi effectiveness in individuals with cancer, osteoarthritis, heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Data were included from 33 studies. For each chronic condition, meta-analyses were performed on disease-specific symptoms, physiological outcomes, and physical performance.

The researchers found that in most or all of the four conditions, tai chi improved or showed a tendency to improve physical performance outcomes, including six-minute walking distance and knee extensor strength. In osteoarthritis, tai chi was associated with improvements in disease-specific symptoms of pain and stiffness.

"Taken together, tai chi demonstrates improvement in functional exercise capacity in individuals with different chronic conditions without aggravating symptoms of pain and dyspnea," the authors write. "To summarize, tai chi appears to provide an adequate exercise stimulus and it could be a suitable exercise to prescribe for people with several comorbidities that include COPD, heart failure, and osteoarthritis."

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