The effect of Tai Chi on the pulmonary rehabilitation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Ann Palliat Med. 2021 Apr;10(4):3763-3782. doi: 10.21037/apm-20-940. Epub 2021 Apr 15.


Background: The effectiveness of Tai Chi for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) so far is unclear. The present systematic review aimed to determine the influence of Tai Chi among people with COPD.

Methods: We searched six electronic databases for relevant studies in September, 2019. The methods of standard meta-analysis were used for identifying relevant studies, quality appraisal, and synthesis. The primary outcomes were six-minute walking distance (6MWD), percentage predicted forced expiratory flow volume in the first second (%PredFEV1), and St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) score.

Results: A total of 23 studies including 1663 participants were included in the meta-analysis. The pooled data showed that the Tai Chi group was associated with a significant improvement in 6MWD [mean difference (MD) 40.83 m, 95% CI: 32.47 to 49.19], %PredFEV1 (MD 1.67%, 95% CI: 0.41 to 2.93), SGRQ score (MD -6.57, 95% CI: -10.17 to -2.98), and Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire (CRQ) (MD 1.60, 95% CI: 0.89 to 2.30) relative to the blank control population. When compared with breathing exercises, the 6MWD was significantly enhanced with Tai Chi (MD 14.15 m, 95% CI: 3.76 to 24.53). Finally, when compared with breathing and walking exercises, Tai Chi was associated with a significant improvement in 6MWD (MD 7.68 m, 95% CI: 2.28 to 13.09 m) and SGRQ score (MD -6.31, 95% CI: -9.13 to -1.48).

Conclusions: Tai Chi may have the potential to reduce dyspnoea, enhance exercise capacity, and improve the quality of life in COPD patients. People with COPD may obtain benefit from practicing Tai Chi.

Keywords: Tai Chi; chronic obstructive; dyspnea; exercise tolerance; pulmonary disease.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Dyspnea
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive* / therapy
  • Quality of Life
  • Tai Ji*