The effect of t'ai chi exercise on immunity and infections: a systematic review of controlled trials

J Altern Complement Med. 2013 May;19(5):389-96. doi: 10.1089/acm.2011.0593. Epub 2013 Jan 14.


Purpose: The aim of this review is to summarize and assess critically clinical trial evidence of the effect of t'ai chi (TC) exercise on immunity and TC efficacy for treating infectious diseases.

Methods: Fourteen databases were searched from their respective inceptions through January 2011. No language restrictions were imposed. Quality and validity of the included clinical trials were evaluated using standard scales.

Results: Sixteen (16) studies, including 7 randomized controlled trials, 4 controlled clinical trials, and 5 retrospective case-control studies, met the inclusion criteria for this review. One (1) study examined clinical symptoms, 3 studies tested functional measures of immunity (antigen-induced immunity), and the other studies tested enumerative parameters of immunity. such as lymphocytes, immunoglobulins, complements, natural-killer cells, and myeloid dendritic cells. Overall, these studies suggested favorable effects of TC exercise.

Conclusions: TC exercise appears to improve both cell-mediated immunity and antibody response in immune system, but it remains debatable whether or not the changes in immune parameters are sufficient to provide protection from infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibody Formation / immunology
  • Complement System Proteins / metabolism
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / immunology
  • Immunocompetence / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulins / blood
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Tai Ji / psychology*


  • Immunoglobulins
  • Complement System Proteins