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Tai Chi and Water Exercise Relieve Arthritis Pain

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Oct 01, 2007

Mind-Body-Spirit News

Regular participation in water exercise or tai chi can alleviate the pain and stiffness of chronic arthritis, according to a study published in Arthritis and Rheumatism (2007; 57 [3], 407–14). Australian researchers conducted a randomized, controlled trial of 152 older adults with chronic hip or knee osteoarthritis. Subjects were Caucasian, with the exception of one Asian participant.

Investigators assigned subjects to water exercise, tai chi or a control group. After 12 and 24 weeks of the program, researchers assessed the subjects for pain and physical function, general health status, psychological well-being and physical performance.

Participants in both exercise groups experienced improvements in pain and physical function, but only the water exercise subjects increased their psychological well-being. The water group scored particularly well in general health status, showing more improvement than the tai chi group at both the 12- and the 24-week marks.

Researchers noted that in this virtually all-white sample of adults, class attendance for water exercise was much higher than for tai chi, which may have indicated a lack of familiarity with tai chi. More research is required.

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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