Cardiovascular and ventilatory responses during formalized T'ai Chi Chuan exercise

Res Q Exerc Sport. 1989 Sep;60(3):246-50. doi: 10.1080/02701367.1989.10607447.


T'ai Chi Chuan (TCC) is a widely practiced Chinese martial art said to physically develop balance and coordination as well as enhance emotional and mental health. TCC consists of a series of postures combined into a sequential movement providing a smooth, continuous, low-intensity activity. The purpose of this study was to examine the ventilatory and cardiovascular responses to the Long Form of Yang's style TCC. In addition, the subjects' TCC responses were compared to their ventilatory and cardiovascular responses during cycle ergometry at an oxygen consumption (VO2) equivalent to the mean TCC VO2. Six experienced (M = 8.3 yrs) male TCC practitioners served as subjects with data collected during the Cloud H and movement of the TCC exercise. Significantly (p less than .05) lower responses for ventilatory frequency (Vf) (11.3 and 15.7 breaths.min-1), ventilatory equivalent (VE/VO2) (23.47 and 27.41), and the ratio of dead space ventilation to tidal volume (VD/VT) (20 and 27%) were found in TCC in comparison to cycle ergometry. The percentage of minute ventilation used for alveolar ventilation was significantly higher during TCC (p less than .03) than cycle ergometry, with mean values of 81.1% and 73.1%, respectively. Cardiac output, stroke volume, and heart rate were not significantly different between TCC exercise and cycle ergometry at the same oxygen consumption. We concluded that, during TCC, expert practitioners show significantly different ventilatory responses leading to more efficient use of the ventilatory volume than would be expected from comparable levels of exertion on a cycle ergometer.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiac Output
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Martial Arts*
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Regression Analysis
  • Respiration*
  • Stroke Volume