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Tai Chi Qigong for Well-Being and COPD

Tai Chi Movements for Wellbeing- Evaluation of a British Lung Foundation Pilot

Respiratory diseases are a leading cause of death and disability throughout the world.  The British Lung Foundation Pilot study examined the effects of a 12 movement sequence of Tai Chi on the level of difficulty breathing, anxiety and physical function over a three month period.  The 12 simple movements were used to  simplify the practice so it could be done by anyone, no matter what level of disability.  

There were four objective measures used to evaluate the effectiveness of the program and the progress of the participants.  Fifty five percent of the participants completed the program, and a positive trend was noted for all of these participants.

The main perceived benefits were a decrease in breathlessness and improved ability to relax. More research is needed in this area as a potential alternative to traditional pulmonary rehabilitation.


Tai Chi Movements for Wellbeing - Evaluation of a British Lung Foundation PilotA Lewis,  N S Hopkinson  


In breathless individuals with respiratory disease, pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) can improve exercise capacity, symptoms and ability to cope with their condition. However, access is often limited, and adherence can be poor. Thus, there is interest in developing alternative and complementary forms of exercise intervention and tai chi may be effective in this context.

Method: The British Lung Foundation worked in collaboration with 'Tai Chi Movements for Wellbeing' Training to train leaders to run community-based tai chi groups in the UK. Leaders received funding to run 3 months of once-a-week classes consisting of a 12 movement sequence of tai chi. Participants completed a questionnaire survey to evaluate the service at the start of their first session and again after 3 months.

Results: Ten tai chi groups recruited 128 participants, 65% women, mean (standard deviation (SD)) age 70.1 (7.4) years at baseline. Seventy individuals completed the follow-up questionnaire at 3 months. Participants demonstrated an improvement in Medical Research Council (MRC) Dyspnoea Score pre 3 (interquartile range (IQR) = 1.8), post 2 (IQR = 1), p = .013 and disease burden; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) assessment test score pre 19.4 (8.7), post 17.9 (9.4), mean change -1.5 (confidence interval (CI): -2.89 to -0.127), p = .033. Those who completed the programme had a worse baseline COPD assessment test (CAT) score and were more likely to have participated in maintenance exercise previously. Qualitative feedback suggested that participants felt the classes had helped with breathlessness and relaxation.

Conclusion: Establishing a tai chi for wellbeing programme for people with respiratory disease is feasible, with a reasonable level of compliance, and is perceived to be helpful by participants.Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; complimentary/alternative medicine; physical activity; respiratory; tai chi.