Effects of Tai Chi in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: preliminary evidence

PLoS One. 2013 Apr 23;8(4):e61806. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061806. Print 2013.


Background: Currently, several studies assessed the role of Tai Chi (TC) in management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but these studies have wide variation of sample and convey inconclusive results. We therefore undertook a meta-analysis to assess the effects of TC.

Methods: A computerized search through electronic databases was performed to obtain sample studies. The primary outcomes were 6-min walking distance (6MWD) and dyspnea. Secondary outcomes included health-related quality of life and pre-bronchodilator spirometry. Weighted mean differences (WMDs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated and heterogeneity was assessed with the I(2) test. A random-effects meta-analysis model was applied.

Results: Eight randomized controlled trials involving 544 patients met the inclusion criteria. The pooled WMDs were 34.22 m (95% CI 21.25-47.20, P<0.00001) for 6 MWD, -0.86 units (95% CI -1.44--0.28, P = 0.004) for dyspnea, 70 ml (95% CI 0.02-0.13, P = 0.01) for FEV1, 120 ml (95% CI 0.00-0.23, P = 0.04) for FVC. TC significantly improved the Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire total score, and the St George's Respiratory Questionnaire score except impact score.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that TC may provide an effective alternative means to achieve results similar to those reported following participation in pulmonary rehabilitation programs. Further studies are needed to substantiate the preliminary findings and investigate the long-term effects of TC.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Databases, Bibliographic
  • Dyspnea / physiopathology
  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Publication Bias
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy*
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Research Design
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tai Ji*
  • Walking / physiology

Grants and funding

The authors have no support or funding to report.