Jonathan M. Letendre
UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND, 2013
Introduction: Older obese women are at risk of obesity-related disability, but Tai Chi has not been explored as an exercise modality along with weight loss for their effects on physical function.
Methods: A 16-week community-based intervention was conducted to assess the impact of Tai Chi plus behaviorally-based weight loss (TCWL, n=29) on obese (BMI=35.4 ±0.8 kg/m2) older (68.2±1.5 yr) women compared to a control group (CON, n=9, BMI=38.0±1.5kg/m2, 65.6±2.7 yr). The major outcome was the short physical performance battery (SPPB), consisting of 4-m gait speed (GS), standing balance, and chair stand (CS) tests. The TCWL group participated in two Tai Chi sessions and one dietary weight loss session per week with a goal of 5-10% weight loss. The CON group was asked to maintain their normal lifestyle.
Results: The TCWL group lost weight, (1.6±2.9 kg, P=.006) while the CON group showed no significant change (1.2 ± 1.9 kg P=.11). SPPB score improved in TCWL (0.59±1.28, P=.023) when compared to the CON group (-0.56±1.81, P=.38). TCWL group improved GS (-0.14±0.76 sec, P=.34) time better (P=.004) than CON (0.56±0.81 sec, P=.07) and also improved CS (-0.80±1.71 sec, P=.02) time better (P=.065) than CON (0.28±2.83 sec, P=.77). Participants in the TCWL group who lost ≥ 3.0% (n=9) body weight saw improvements in SPPB (P<0.01) and flexibility (P<0.05). Weight losers in the TCWL group saw improvements compared to the CON group in SPPB (P<0.001).
Discussion: Tai Chi combined with dietary weight loss may represent an effective intervention strategy to maintain and improve physical function in older obese women.