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Tai Chi for Weight Loss

Explore the many benefits of a tai chi practice.

Older adults practicing tai chi for weight loss

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

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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