Objective: This study aimed to validate the effects of a simplified, gentle form of t'ai chi chuan in patients with type 2 diabetes and who are also obese.
Design: The study was designed to be a randomized controlled trial.
Setting: This study was conducted in the department of metabolism and endocrinology at Cheng Ching Hospital, in Taichung, Taiwan.
Subjects: The study subjects were hospital-based patients with type 2 diabetes and who were also obese (ages 40-70, with a body-mass index [BMI] range of 30-35). The patients were randomly selected and grouped into t'ai chi exercise (TCE) and conventional exercise (CE) groups.
Interventions: After receiving instruction in t'ai chi, the TCE group and the CE group practiced three times per week, including one practice session lasting up to 1 hour, for 12 weeks.
Outcome measures: Hemoglobin A1C, serum lipid profile, serum malondialdehyde, and C-reactive protein were measured. Physical parameters of body weight and BMI were also measured. Diet and medications of participants were monitored carefully while biochemical and physical conditions were analyzed.
Results: After 12 weeks, hemoglobin A1C values of the TCE group did not decrease (8.9 ± 2.7% : 8.3 ± 2.2%; p = 0.064). BMI (33.5 ± 4.8 : 31.3 ± 4.2; p = 0.038) and serum lipids, including triglyceride (214 ± 47 mg/dL : 171 ± 34 mg/dL; p = 0.012) and high density lipoprotein cholesterol (38 ± 16 mg/dL : 45 ± 18 mg/dL; p = 0.023) had significant improvements. Serum malondialdehyde tended to decrease from baseline (2.66 ± 0.78 μmol/L : 2.31 ± 0.55 μmol/L; p = 0.035), and C-reactive protein also decreased (0.39 ± 0.19 mg/dL : 0.22 ± 0.15 mg/dL; p = 0.014). No improvements occurred in BMI, lipids, and oxidative stress profiles in the CE group.
Conclusions: T'ai chi exercise practiced by patients who are obese and have type 2 diabetes is efficient and safe when supervised by professionals and helps improve parameters, such as BMI, lipid profile, C-reactive protein, and malondialdehyde. Periodic monitoring of blood glucose, blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, physical fitness, and symptoms of discomfort of patients who exercise helps prevent injury. Simple, gentle TCE can be applied as regular daily exercise for patients with type 2 diabetes even when such patients are obese.