We would like to thank the United States National Institutes of Health and National Library of Medicine for granting us permission to use the information from their site. The links included here focus on studies conducted by western medical researchers on the health benefits of taiji practice. They document substantial direct benefits and provide direction for future research.

The links to NIH will take you to the NIH site. They’ve redone the site, so you’ll have to do the search again. Use the researcher’s name and the date or the full title of the study. The links given with the abstracts for PubMed will take you directly to the source of the information. Please come back and visit us again soon.


Tai Chi for Older People Reduces Falls, May Help Maintain Strength

National Institute for Health (US gov)
Contact: Public Information Office (301) 496-1752
May 2, 1996

In the first study, Steven L. Wolf, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Ga., found that older people taking part in a 15-week Tai Chi program reduced their risk of falling by 47.5 percent. A second study, by Leslie Wolfson, M.D., and colleagues at the University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, found that several interventions to improve balance and strength among older people were effective. These improvements, particularly in strength, were preserved over a 6-month period while participants did Tai Chi exercises.

Two-year trends in cardiorespiratory function among older Tai Chi Chuan practitioners and Sedentary subjects.

J Am Geriatr Soc 1995 Nov;43(11):1222-7
Lai JS, Lan C, Wong MK, Teng SH
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Republic of China.

CONCLUSION: The data substantiate that practicing Tai Chi Chuan regularly may delay the decline of cardiorespiratory function in older individuals. In addition, TCC may be prescribed as a suitable aerobic exercise for older adults.

Tai Chi as a method of fall prevention in the elderly.

Orthop Nurs 1998 Jul-Aug;17(4):27-9
Kessenich CR
Husson College in Bangor, Maine, USA.

Falls often lead to the fracture of bones in the elderly population. Fall incidence is increasing with the concomitant rise in the elderly population. Recently, some nontraditional methods of fall prevention have been explored. This article provides some background information about the ancient practice of Tai Chi as well as a brief review of the current literature exploring the effectiveness of Tai Chi in health promotion and fall prevention.

12-month Tai Chi training in the elderly: its effect on health fitness.

Med Sci Sports Exerc 1998 Mar;30(3):345-51
Lan C, Lai JS, Chen SY, Wong MK
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei.

PURPOSE: The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) on health fitness in older individuals. Cardiorespiratory function, strength, flexibility, and percent of body fat were evaluated before and at the end of this study. RESULTS: The male TCC group showed 16.1% increase in VO2max (P < 0.01), 11 degrees increase in thoracic/lumbar flexibility (P < 0.05), 18.1% increase in muscle strength of knee extensor (P < 0.01), and 15.4% increase of knee flexor (P < 0.05). The female TCC group showed 21.3% increase in VO2max (P < 0.01), 8.8 degrees increase in flexibility (P < 0.05), 20.3% increase in muscle strength of knee extensor (P < 0.05), and 15.9% increase of knee flexor (P < 0.05). The control group showed no significant change in these variables. CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate that a 12-month Tai Chi Chuan program is effective for improving health fitness of the elderly.

Efficacy of Tai Chi, brisk walking, meditation, and reading in reducing mental and emotional stress.

J Psychosom Res 1992 May;36(4):361-70
Jin P
Department of Psychology, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia.

Tai Chi, a moving meditation, is examined for its efficacy in post-stressor recovery. Heart rate, blood pressure, and urinary catecholamine changes for Tai Chi were found to be similar to those for walking at a speed of 6 km/hr. Although Tai Chi appeared to be superior to neutral reading in the reduction of state anxiety and the enhancement of vigour, this effect could be partially accounted for by the subjects’ high expectations about gains from Tai Chi. Approaches controlling for expectancy level are recommended for further assessment.

Self-report benefits of Tai Chi practice by older adults.

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 1997 Sep;52(5):P242-6
Kutner NG, Barnhart H, Wolf SL, McNeely E, Xu T
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, School of Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Older persons who are willing to begin exercise programs are often not willing to continue them. At the Atlanta FICSIT (Frailty and Injuries: Cooperative Studies of Intervention Techniques) site, individuals aged 70+ were randomized to Tai Chi (TC), individualized balance training (BT), and exercise control education (ED) groups for 15 weeks. In a follow-up assessment 4 months post-intervention, 130 subjects responded to exit interview questions asking about perceived benefits of participation. Both TC and BT subjects reported increased confidence in balance and movement, but only TC subjects reported that their daily activities and their overall life had been affected; many of these subjects had changed their normal physical activity to incorporate ongoing TC practice. The data suggest that when mental as well as physical control is perceived to be enhanced, with a generalized sense of improvement in overall well-being, older persons’ motivation to continue exercising also increases.

Balance control, flexibility, and cardiorespiratory fitness among older Tai Chi practitioners.

Br J Sports Med 2000 Feb;34(1):29-34
Hong Y, Li JX, Robinson PD
Department of Sports Science and Physical Education, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

BACKGROUND: Tai Chi Chuan (TTC) exercise has beneficial effects on the components of physical condition and can produce a substantial reduction in the risk of multiple falls. Previous studies have shown that short term TCC exercise did not improve the scores in the single leg stance test with eyes closed and the sit and reach test. There has apparently been no research into the effects of TCC on total body rotation flexibility and heart rate responses at rest and after a three minute step test. METHODS: In this cross sectional study, 28 male TCC practitioners with an average age of 67.5 years old and 13.2 years of TCC exercise experience were recruited to form the TCC group. Another 30 sedentary men aged 66.2 were selected to serve as the control group. Measurements included resting heart rate, left and right single leg stance with eyes closed, modified sit and reach test, total body rotation test (left and right), and a three minute step test. RESULTS: Compared with the sedentary group, the TCC group had significantly better scores in resting heart rate, three minute step test heart rate, modified sit and reach, total body rotation test on both right and left side (p < 0.01), and both right and left leg standing with eyes closed (p < 0.05). According to the American Fitness Standards, the TCC group attained the 90th percentile rank for sit and reach and total body rotation test, right and left. CONCLUSION: Long term regular TCC exercise has favourable effects on the promotion of balance control, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness in older adults.

Exploring the basis for Tai Chi Chuan as a therapeutic exercise approach.

Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1997 Aug;78(8):886-92
Wolf SL, Coogler C, Xu T
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.

For many centuries Tai Chi has been a martial art form, practiced primarily in Oriental cultures. For the past 300 years this movement approach has been used as an exercise form, practiced by millions of Chinese elderly people. To date, virtually no information exists about the therapeutic elements of this intriguing movement sequence. This article provides a historical review of existing documentation of reputed Tai Chi benefits. The 108 “forms” of Tai Chi Chuan are reduced to 10 composite forms for ease of application of these forms to older individuals within a reasonable time frame. An effort is set forth to identify the potential therapeutic elements within these forms.

Eastern movement therapies

Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am 1999 Aug;10(3):617-29
Farrell SJ, Ross AD, Sehgal KV
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo, USA.

Tai chi, qigong, and yoga represent a class of exercise that differs from the routine strengthening and stretching programs currently employed in physical medicine. These techniques incorporate a “mind-body” approach to the rehabilitation of disorders commonly seen by physical medicine and rehabilitation clinicians. Research into the efficacy of these techniques clearly is in the beginning stages. What little has been conducted thus far is promising. These methods may serve to add valuable contributions to the continuity of care of ambulatory and non-ambulatory patients.