Paris: A review of medical studies gave
the thumbs-up on Monday to tai chi as a way of preventing
falls and improving mental health in the elderly, but does not
confirm other claims made for the Chinese martial art.
British and South Korean researchers looked at 35
assessments of tai chi found in English-language, Chinese and
There was "convincingly positive" evidence that, among
the elderly, practicising tai chi helped sense of balance and
boosted psychological wellbeing.
However, the sport "seems to be ineffective" for
treating the symptoms of cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, the
The evidence was contradictory as to whether tai chi
improved high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular
disease, muscle strength, osteoporosis and other conditions.
Many studies were flawed because they had a poor
design or were at high risk of bias. For instance, they
enrolled only small numbers of volunteers or lacked an
adequate "control" group to ensure a fair comparison.
The overview was conducted by Myeong Soo Lee of the
Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine in Daejeon, and Edzard
Ernst of the University of Exeter, southwestern England.
It appears in the British Journal of Sports Medicine,
published by the British Medical Association (BMA).
Tai chi entails regular practice of deep breathing and
relaxation techniques, combined with slow and gentle
It is based on tenets in Confucian and Buddhist
philosophies that there are two opposing life forces, yin and
yang, which govern health.
Ill health results from an imbalance in these forces,
but it can be corrected by tai chi, according to these