Source: Xinhua | 2012-8-15 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
TAI chi can be an effective form of therapy for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a University of Sydney study has found.
The study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, shows that the classical form of the Chinese movement improves exercise capacity and quality of life and suggests that tai chi is more effective than standard Western medical approaches.
"Tai chi is of significantly more benefit in terms of improving patients' exercise capacity, balance, muscle strength and quality of life compared with regular medical care without training," said Regina Leung, a physiotherapist and PhD candidate in the university's Faculty of Health Sciences, who led the study.
Tai chi is readily accessible and easily implemented in the community.
In Australia, tai chi could bridge an important gap for COPD sufferers who live in rural or sparsely populated areas and who face problems with access or mobility.
Professor Charles Xue, chairman of the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia, said: "Anything that will support the development of Chinese medicine practice, encourage scientific research and ensure that the public has access to qualified practitioners is good both for Chinese medicine and the public."
The research team worked with 42 people with COPD, a collective term for a number of incurable lung diseases including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Half the group attended tai chi lessons twice a week and practised at home, and the other half followed their usual medical management, which did not include exercise.
"Our results showed an improvement in exercise capacity and quality of life, but also in muscle strength and balance, which had never been shown in previous tai chi studies in people with COPD," Leung said.
Compared to the group completing the usual medical management, participants completing the tai chi exercise performed 75 percent better.
"Improvement in balance and muscle strength of the lower limbs is very important in reducing the risk of falls for people with COPD, who are generally more at risk as their balance tends to be worse than others in the same age group," Leung said.