lungs, upper-body muscle strength, and guidance from the brain,” explained an expert unconnected to the study, Dr. Irene Galperin. She directs the Pleural Center at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
“When lungs are weakened by COPD, we rely on the other two factors to compensate. This is why pulmonary rehabilitation — which entails endurance and strength training — improves the lives of patients with COPD,” Galperin said.
However, pulmonary rehabilitation requires trained staff and specialized facilities. The new study found that tai chi could be a low-cost, easily accessed alternative for some patients.
In the study, researchers tracked outcomes for 120 COPD patients in China who had begun daily medical treatment.
The patients were also randomly assigned to practice tai chi, or receive pulmonary rehabilitation.
After 12 weeks, the patients in the tai chi group had greater improvements in their COPD symptoms, as well as in a six-minute walk test, according to the study published online April 3 in the journal Chest.
“Physical activity is key to