EXERCISE Tai Chi reduces arthritic pain, prevents fatigue and stiffness
P articipants who were recruited in the largest study of the Arthritis Foundation's Tai Chi programme, have shown that practising the art has introduced a sense of well-being.
Their ability to reach while maintaining balance also improved, said Leigh Callahan, the study's lead author, and associate professor in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.
“Our study shows that there are significant benefits of the Tai Chi course for individuals with all types of arthritis, including fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis,” says Callahan. In the study, 354 participants were recruited and randomly assigned to two groups. Participants had to have any type of self-reported, doctor-diagnosed arthritis, and be able to move independently without assistance. However, they did not have to be able to perform Tai Chi standing.
Self-reports of pain, fatigue and stiffness and physical function performance measures were collected at baseline and at the eight-week evaluation. Participants were asked questions about their ability to perform activities of daily living, their overall general health and psychosocial measures such as their perceived helplessness and self-efficacy. At the end of eight weeks the individuals who had received the intervention showed moderate reduction in pain, fatigue and stiffness. “They also had an increased sense of well-being, as measured by the psychosocial variables, and they had improved reach or balance,” says Callahan.