Tai Chi May Benefit Those With Rheumatological Diseases
by Shirley Archer, JD, MA
A significant and growing body of research evidence supports use of mind-body activities to help people cope with a variety of chronic conditions. A new review of tai chi studies supports recommending tai chi practice to people with rheumatological diseases, since the mind-body aspects of tai chi address components of physical fitness, pain reduction, and mental and emotional well-being. Rheumatological diseases include arthritis, autoimmune diseases, pain disorders affecting joints (e.g., back pain and fibromyalgia) and osteoporosis.
Studies included in the review confirmed the physical fitness benefits of doing tai chi. The practice improved muscle strength, balance, flexibility and cardiovascular conditioning consistent with requirements established for people with osteoarthritis. Multiple randomized controlled trials demonstrated that tai chi practitioners with fibromyalgia demonstrated improvements in functional mobility .
Tai chi was also found effective for addressing emotional stress, anxiety and depression. More than 33 studies substantiated the association between tai chi practice and improvements in emotional well-being and reductions in stress, anxiety, depression and mood disturbances—both in healthy individuals and in people with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and arthritis.
The study author recommended tai chi as a mind-body exercise for patients with fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The mechanisms for why mind-body activities result in improvements in physical and mental health are not yet fully understood.
The review appeared in Current Rheumatology Reports
(2012; 14 , 598–603).
Fitness Journal, Volume 10, Issue 4
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