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Practicing Tai Chi Provides Arthritis Pain Relief

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Feb 17, 2011

Mind-Body-Spirit News

Preliminary findings from the Arthritis Foundation Tai Chi Program®, the largest study of its kind, have shown that people with arthritis experience pain relief and improvement in fatigue, stiffness and well-being from practicing tai chi only twice per week.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine [UNC] found that individuals with all types of arthritis, including fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, benefited significantly from the [Arthritis Foundation’s] tai chi course, according to Leigh F. Callahan, PhD, lead study author and associate professor at UNC.

Researchers randomly assigned 247 people, primarily Caucasian females, to attend 1-hour, twice-weekly tai chi classes, as designed by the Arthritis Foundation, for 2 months. The Arthritis Foundation recommends a modified Sun-style tai chi program, developed by Paul Lam, MD, a family physician in Sydney, Australia, who has personally dealt with his own arthritis since he was a teenager. All study subjects had been diagnosed with arthritis but were able to walk unassisted.

Before the study began and again after 8 weeks, investigators assessed strength and physical performance, walking gait and balance and took participant reports on levels of pain, fatigue, stiffness and physical function. Initial data analysis showed that subjects felt mildly to moderately better after the tai chi intervention and improved their sense of well-being and sleep quality.

The study was presented at the 2010 annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology. To learn more, and to watch a video that includes an interview with Callahan, go to For more information on the Arthritis Foundation and its tai chi program, go to

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About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at