Tai chi exercise may have positive effects on bone health in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. This systematic review is the first to summarize evidence to clarify the efficacy of tai chi exercise in bone health. The benefits of tai chi exercise on bone health remain unclear; further studies are needed. Emerging randomized controlled trials (RCTs) exploring the efficacy of tai chi exercise on bone health among older women, but yielded inconclusive results. Our objective is to conduct a systematic review to evaluate evidence from RCTs to clarify the efficacy of tai chi exercise on bone mineral density (BMD), and bone turnover markers (BTM) in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. Six electronic databases were searched, and reference lists of systematic reviews and identified studies from the search strategy were also screened. We included all RCTs that investigate tai chi exercise for bone health in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. Data selection, extraction, and evaluation of risk of bias were performed independently by two reviewers. Ten trials detailed in 11 articles were included. Six of the 11 studies reported positive outcomes on bone health. Results of our meta-analysis showed a significant effect of tai chi exercise on BMD change at the spine compared with no treatment in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. When tai chi exercise combined with a calcium supplement was compared with the calcium supplement alone, the result of BMD change at the spine showed no significant effect. Because the measurable effect observed was minimal, and due to the low quality of methodology of the studies, we conclude that the result is of limited reliability. Tai chi exercise may have benefits on bone health in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women, but the evidence is sometimes weak, poor, and inconsistent. Consequently, only limited conclusions can be drawn regarding the efficacy of tai chi exercise on bone health. Further well designed studies with low risk of bias are needed.
Keywords: Bone; Bone mineral density; Bone turnover markers; Osteoporosis; Perimenopausal; Postmenopausal women; Tai chi exercise.