Adhering to a t'ai chi program to improve glucose control and quality of life for individuals with type 2 diabetes

J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Jun;15(6):627-32. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0330.


Purpose: This study was to examine the effects of adherence to a 6-month t'ai chi exercise program on glucose control, diabetic self-care activities, and quality of life among individuals with type 2 diabetes.

Method: The data from a quasi-experimental study at multisite health-promotion centers in Korea with pretest and 3- and 6-month post-test measures were used. Ninety-nine (99) adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and HbA1c 6.0 or higher were included in the analysis. The t'ai chi intervention consisted of 19 movements from Yang and Sun styles provided twice a week for 6 months. Sixty-two (62) subjects completed both pretest and post-test measures. To achieve the desired outcomes, subjects needed to complete 80% of the sessions of the t'ai chi program, and 31 subjects who met this criteria were compared to those who did not (n = 31). Outcome measures included glucose control (fasting blood sugar, HbA1c), diabetic self-care activities, and quality of life (36-Item Short Form Health Survey, version 2).

Results: Using repeated measure analysis of variance for baseline, 3 months, and 6 months, the adherent group had greater decline in fasting glucose (interaction effect F = 5.60, df = 2, p < 0.05) and HbA1c (interaction effect F = 4.15, df = 2, p < 0.05) than the nonadherers. The adherent group performed significantly more diabetic self-care activities (interaction effect F = 5.13, df = 2, p < 0.05), and had better quality of life in mental component summary, social functioning, mental health, and vitality as compared to the nonadherent group. The significant differences in quality of life remained after adjusting for self-care activities except for mental health, which was no longer significant.

Conclusion: For those with type 2 diabetes, t'ai chi could be an alternative exercise intervention to increase glucose control, diabetic self-care activities, and quality of life. Whether t'ai chi can reduce or prevent diabetic complications requires further study.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Care*
  • Social Behavior
  • Tai Ji*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • hemoglobin A1c protein, human