Baduanjin exercise is a traditional Chinese health Qigong routine created by an ancient physician for health promotion. Its mild-to-moderate exercise intensity is suitable for individuals with medical conditions. Recently, a large number of trials have been conducted to investigate the effects of Baduanjin exercise in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It remains to be determined whether Baduanjin exercise prescription is beneficial for the management of COPD patients. Thus, we conducted a systematic review to objectively evaluate the existing literature on this topic. We searched six databases (PubMed, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, Scopus, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, and Wanfang) from inception until early May 2018. The adapted Physical Therapy Evidence Database (PEDro) scale was used for study quality assessment of all randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Based on 95% confidence interval (CI), the pooled effect size (Hedge's g) of exercise capability (6-Minute Walking Test, 6-MWT), lung function parameters (forced expiratory volume in one second, FEV₁; forced volume vital capacity, FVC; FEV₁/FVC ratio), and quality of life were calculated based on the random-effects model. Twenty RCTs (n = 1975 COPD patients) were included in this review, with sum scores of the adapted PEDro scale between 5 and 9. Study results of the meta-analysis indicate that Baduanjin is effective in improving exercise capability (Hedge's g = 0.69, CI 0.44 to 0.94, p < 0.001, I² = 66%), FEV₁ (Hedge's g = 0.47, CI 0.22 to 0.73, p < 0.001, I² = 68.01%), FEV₁% (Hedge's g = 0.38, CI 0.21 to 0.56, p < 0.001, I² = 54.74%), FVC (Hedge's g = 0.39, CI 0.22 to 0.56, p < 0.001, I² = 14.57%), FEV₁/FVC (Hedge's g = 0.5, CI 0.33 to 0.68, p < 0.001, I² = 53.49%), and the quality of life of COPD patients (Hedge's g = -0.45, CI -0.77 to -0.12, p < 0.05, I² = 77.02%), as compared to control groups. Baduanjin exercise as an adjunctive treatment may potentially improve exercise capability and pulmonary function of COPD patients as well as quality of life. Baduanjin exercise could be tentatively prescribed for COPD in combination with the conventional rehabilitation program to quicken the process of recovery. To confirm the positive effects of Baduanjin exercise for COPD patients, future researchers need to consider our suggestions mentioned in this article.
Keywords: Baduanjin; COPD; Qigong; rehabilitation.