Background and purpose: Tai Chi Chuan, a traditional Chinese exercise, is thought to improve cardiopulmonary function in patients with chronic disease. This study investigated the effect of Tai Chi Chuan on the pulmonary function and daily symptoms of asthmatic children.
Methods: Thirty asthmatic children were enrolled into the study. Fifteen of the 30 children participated in a 12-week Tai Chi Chuan program and the remaining 15 constituted the control group. Prior to study participation, the pulmonary function of all enrolled children was assessed at rest, after exercise, and after exercise plus iced water. A 3-day symptoms questionnaire was also completed and a score obtained after each pulmonary function test.
Results: There were no significant differences between the two groups in baseline pulmonary function and severity of asthmatic symptoms before study commencement, at rest, after exercise, or after exercise plus iced water. However, after the 12-week program, children in the Tai Chi Chuan group had a significant improvement in pulmonary function compared to the control group. Although there were no significant differences in post-training symptom scores at rest and after exercise between the two groups, under the stronger challenge of exercise plus iced water, children in the Tai Chi Chuan group had milder symptoms than those in the control group.
Conclusion: Our data show that Tai Chi Chuan can improve the pulmonary function of asthmatic children. However, long-term follow-up is required to determine the impact of Tai Chi Chuan on the severity of asthmatic symptoms.