Catherine M Fetherston
Murdoch University, Mandurah, WA, Australia, 2010
Aim. To provide health professionals with information regarding the phenomenon of tai chi, which has now become a world wide activity with the potential to improve health and well-being in a broad range of chronic illnesses.
Background. Mind-body approaches to health, such as tai chi, are gaining in popularity, particularly amongst people with chronic illness who are seeking self management health strategies that have the capacity to address multiple health needs across both physical and psychological spectrums.
Method. This article has been informed by a broad computerized systematic literature search.
Conclusions. An ever increasing body of research indicates that tai chi has beneficial effects in people with a range of medical conditions in varying populations. Its potential benefits include enhancing cardio-respiratory fitness, reducing blood pressure, improving glucose control in diabetic patients, increasing immune response, alleviating pain, assisting in the rehabilitation of people experiencing chronic health conditions, and promoting psychological well-being. Tai chi’s wide range of reported benefits makes it an ideal self management strategy, for both the elderly and people with chronic conditions, to improve their psychological and physical well-being in a community setting.
Relevance to clinical practice. Knowledge regarding indications for, and effects of, this popular self management intervention will enable health professionals to provide up to date information and advice to patients on the appropriateness of including tai chi in their self management health plans.