Tai Chi

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Category: Life Style Options

What is it?

Tai Chi is a powerful but gentle ancient Chinese exercise and healing art and considered as a gentle form of martial arts. It has been practiced in China for many centuries for good health and longevity. It consists of slow flowing movements which exercise and relax the mind and body.

How does it work?

It is thought that the slow controlled movements and steady breathing reduces stress, improves flexibility and muscle strength and increases the body’s energy which produces a feeling of general well-being and relaxation.

Is it effective?

A study undertaken in 1989 found cardiovascular responses, hormone levels, and mood states could improve as a result of participation in Tai Chi in a healthy population. Other studies have found that Tai Chi can be beneficial for immune capacity, mental control, flexibility, strength, and balance control in several populations such as arthritic, cardio-respiratory conditions, and hypertension. Improvements in psychological measures have also been seen on depression, anxiety, mood and stress scales. Unfortunately there is no research specifically on the effectiveness of Tai Chi as a treatment for PTSD.

Are there any disadvantages?

Tai Chi appears to have physiological and psychosocial benefits and also appears to be safe. However if you have any health conditions be sure to consult your local medical practitioner before commencing this type of exercise. Strains and sprains can be the result of poor technique or loss of control so make sure you have a qualified professional teaching you.

Where do you get it?

A list of trainers and classes can be found on the Tai Chi Australia website. While these strategies are pursued, it is also important that the person with PTSD is under the care of a certified health professional.

What are the evidence limitations?

There is currently no explicit evidence to support Tai Chi as an independent intervention for PTSD. Much of the evidence base is derived from lower levels of evidence such as expert opinion and clinical experiences. Therefore interpreting this evidence should be undertaken with caution.

Recommendations

Based on the current lack of high quality evidence, tai chi cannot be recommended as a first-line intervention for those diagnosed with PTSD. More research is required.

Key References

Jin, P 1989, ‘Changes in heart rate, noradrenaline, cortisol and mood during tai chi’, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Vol. 33(2), pp. l97-206.

Li, JX, Hong, Y & Chan, KM 2001, ‘Tai chi: physiological characteristics and beneficial effects on health’, British Journal of Sports Medicine, vol.35, pp.148–156.

Wang, C, Collet, JP & Lau, J 2004, ‘Effect of Tai Chi on Health Outcomes in Patients With Chronic Conditions A Systematic Review’, Archives of Internal Medicine, vol.164, pp. 493-501.

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