Tai Chi as an adjunct physical activity for adults aged 45 years and older enrolled in phase III cardiac rehabilitation

Eur J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2012 Mar;11(1):34-43. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcnurse.2010.11.001.


Background: Cardiac rehabilitation improves physical, cognitive and psychosocial functioning, yet services are greatly underutilized with increasing patterns of attrition over time. Tai Chi has been suggested as a possible adjunct to cardiac rehabilitation exercise training.

Aim: To describe differences in physical, cognitive and psychosocial functioning among adults ≥ 45 years old attending phase III cardiac rehabilitation, who have or have not self-selected Tai Chi exercise as an adjunct physical activity.

Methods: A cross-sectional design compared subjects attending group-based Wu style Tai Chi classes plus cardiac rehabilitation, with cardiac rehabilitation only. Subjects had a battery of physical and cognitive functioning tests administered to examine aerobic endurance, balance, strength, and flexibility, verbal retrieval/recall, attention, concentration and tracking. Subjects completed a health survey to ascertain cardiac event information, medical history, and psychosocial functioning (i.e. health-related quality of life, stress, depressive symptoms, social support, and Tai Chi self-efficacy).

Results: A total of 51 subjects (75% married, 84% college-educated, 96% White/European-American) participated. Subjects were on average 70 (± 8) years old and had attended cardiac rehabilitation for 45 (± 37) months. Approximately 45% (n = 23) attended Tai Chi classes plus cardiac rehabilitation, while 55% (n = 28) attended cardiac rehabilitation only. Subjects attending Tai Chi plus cardiac rehabilitation had better balance, perceived physical health, and Tai Chi self-efficacy compared to those attending cardiac rehabilitation only (p ≤ 0.03).

Conclusion: Tai Chi can be easily implemented in any community/cardiac rehabilitation facility, and may offer adults additional options after a cardiac event.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cognition
  • Community Health Centers / organization & administration
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Exercise Therapy / nursing
  • Exercise Therapy / organization & administration
  • Female
  • Geriatric Nursing / methods*
  • Geriatric Nursing / organization & administration
  • Health Surveys
  • Heart Diseases / nursing
  • Heart Diseases / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Program Evaluation
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of Life
  • Rehabilitation Nursing / methods*
  • Rehabilitation Nursing / organization & administration
  • Tai Ji / methods*
  • Tai Ji / nursing
  • Tai Ji / organization & administration