Help clients build that summer body. SAVE 30% on The Science of Core Training Certificate (9 CECs). Use Code CORECERT SAVE 30% Now »

Tai Chi or Jogging for Lower-Body Conditioning

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Jul 01, 2006

Long-term practice of tai chi can improve muscular strength in the lower body, particularly around the knees and ankles, as much as long-term jogging, according to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (2006; [40], 50–54). This is good news for older adults looking for gentle movement alternatives that provide powerful conditioning benefits.

Researchers recruited 61 participants, including long-term tai chi practitioners, long-term joggers and inactive individuals. Assessors measured the isokinetic strength of muscles at the knee and ankle joints and the endurance of knee flexors and extensors in all subjects. Slight differences in conditioning resulted from the nature of the different activities. For example, comparing joggers with tai chi practitioners, the former developed slightly stronger concentric strength in the knee extensors and flexors, whereas the latter attained greater muscular endurance in the knee extensors. The benefits of both jogging and tai chi on lower-body muscular strength and endurance were clear—and significantly better than no exercise.

Investigators suggested that tai chi could be effective in increasing muscular endurance because the movements are slow, continuous, smooth and well controlled. This type of training may be most beneficial for conditioning slow-twitch muscle fibers, which when trained have a greater resistance to fatigue (than fast-twitch fibers) because of their high capacity for aerobic metabolism. More research is needed to explore these mechanisms of action and to appreciate the broad range of benefits, especially for older adults, of long-term tai chi practice.

Fitness Journal, Volume 3, Issue 7

Find the Perfect Job

More jobs, more applicants and more visits than any other fitness industry job board.

© 2006 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

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