There may be benefits of tai chi for weight loss. It’s common knowledge that visceral fat (that “tire” around the belly area) increases the risk of metabolic syndrome and other chronic diseases. In a randomized controlled trial, University of Hong Kong researchers investigated whether or not tai chi practice effectively reduced belly fat in 543 Chinese adults, ages 50 and older. “Central obesity” was present in all participants.

Three groups—a control group, a combined cardio and strength training group, and a tai chi exercise group—participated in the 12-week study. Exercise group members participated in three 1-hour sessions per week.

Data analysis showed that tai chi does have some weight loss benefits: members of both the combined training and tai chi training groups reduced body weight and waist circumference; by contrast, control group members experienced small gains in weight and waist circumference. Interestingly, tai chi group members lost the most belly fat.

Limitations of the study included the fact that all subjects were Chinese and that a number of individuals dropped out before the study concluded.

The findings were published in Annals of Internal Medicine (2021; -7014).

See also: High-Quality Evidence for Tai Chi’s Benefits