Improve Health with Tai Chi


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“Tai chi is often described as “meditation in motion,” but it might well be called “medication in motion.” There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice, which originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health problems. And you can get started even if you aren’t in top shape or the best of health.” – Harvard Health Watch


Tai Chi has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevity. Tai Chi training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. Only recently though have the effects of Tai Chi practice been scrutinized with empirical research. It has been found to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. It appears to strengthen the immune systemreduce inflammation and increase the number of cancer killing cells in the bloodstream.


Because Tai Chi is not strenuous, involving slow gentle movements, and is safe, having no appreciable side effects, it is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. In today’s Research News article “An evidence map of the effect of Tai Chi on health outcomes.” See:

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:  Solloway and colleagues review the published research literature on the health effects of Tai Chi practice. They summarized previously published reviews and meta-analyses of the research. In other words, they performed a summary of summaries.


They report that Tai Chi has been shown to be helpful for balance and fall prevention, particularly in the elderly, and with hypertension, reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. It was also found to improve cognitive performance, pain, osteoarthritis pain and joint stiffness, muscle strength, improved chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and relief of depression.


These results are very encouraging and suggest that Tai Chi is effective for a number of health conditions. It has so many advantages as a therapy that it should be considered for not only treatment but also prevention of disease and promotion of health especially in the elderly and vulnerable populations. Among its many advantages is low cost. Training can occur in relatively large groups and it can be practiced virtually anywhere alone or in groups. In addition, it’s safe, having no known adverse outcomes.


So, improve health with tai chi.


“A growing body of carefully conducted research is building a compelling case for tai chi as an adjunct to standard medical treatment for the prevention and rehabilitation of many conditions commonly associated with age.” – Peter M. Wayne


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+


Study Summary

Solloway, M. R., Taylor, S. L., Shekelle, P. G., Miake-Lye, I. M., Beroes, J. M., Shanman, R. M., & Hempel, S. (2016). An evidence map of the effect of Tai Chi on health outcomes. Systematic Reviews, 5, 126.



Background: This evidence map describes the volume and focus of Tai Chi research reporting health outcomes. Originally developed as a martial art, Tai Chi is typically taught as a series of slow, low-impact movements that integrate the breath, mind, and physical activity to achieve greater awareness and a sense of well-being.

Methods: The evidence map is based on a systematic review of systematic reviews. We searched 11 electronic databases from inception to February 2014, screened reviews of reviews, and consulted with topic experts. We used a bubble plot to graphically display clinical topics, literature size, number of reviews, and a broad estimate of effectiveness.

Results: The map is based on 107 systematic reviews. Two thirds of the reviews were published in the last five years. The topics with the largest number of published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were general health benefits (51 RCTs), psychological well-being (37 RCTs), interventions for older adults (31 RCTs), balance (27 RCTs), hypertension (18 RCTs), fall prevention (15 RCTs), and cognitive performance (11 RCTs). The map identified a number of areas with evidence of a potentially positive treatment effect on patient outcomes, including Tai Chi for hypertension, fall prevention outside of institutions, cognitive performance, osteoarthritis, depression, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pain, balance confidence, and muscle strength. However, identified reviews cautioned that firm conclusions cannot be drawn due to methodological limitations in the original studies and/or an insufficient number of existing research studies.

Conclusions: Tai Chi has been applied in diverse clinical areas, and for a number of these, systematic reviews have indicated promising results. The evidence map provides a visual overview of Tai Chi research volume and content.


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