Objective: To evaluate the evidence for Tai Chi as an intervention to reduce rate of bone loss in postmenopausal women.
Data sources: Literature search using Medline, Science Citation Index, Cochrane databases, China Biological Medicine Database, and additional manual reference searches of retrieved articles and personal libraries.
Study selection: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), prospective cohort studies, and cross-sectional studies that included Tai Chi as an intervention, and had at least 1 outcome related to measurement of bone mineral density (BMD).
Data extraction: Authors critically reviewed studies, evaluated methodologic quality, and synthesized study results in a summary table.
Data synthesis: Six controlled studies were identified by our search. There were 2 RCTs, 2 nonrandomized prospective parallel cohort studies, and 2 cross-sectional studies. The 2 RCTs and 1 of the prospective cohort studies suggested that Tai Chi-naive women who participated in Tai Chi training exhibited reduced rates of postmenopausal declines in BMD. Cross-sectional studies suggested that long-term Tai Chi practitioners had higher BMD than age-matched sedentary controls, and had slower rates of postmenopausal BMD decline. No adverse effects related to Tai Chi were reported in any trial.
Conclusions: Conclusions on the impact of Tai Chi on BMD are limited by the quantity and quality of research to date. This limited evidence suggests Tai Chi may be an effective, safe, and practical intervention for maintaining BMD in postmenopausal women. In combination with research that indicates Tai Chi can positively impact other risk factors associated with low BMD (eg, reduced fall frequency, increased musculoskeletal strength), further methodologically sound research is warranted to better evaluate the impact of Tai Chi practice on BMD and fracture risk in postmenopausal women.