People over 65 with knee osteoarthritis have less pain and better physical function if they take up regular Tai Chi exercise, a new study has found.
Tai Chi is a traditional style of Chinese martial arts that features slow, rhythmic movements to induce mental relaxation and enhance balance, strength, and flexibility.
In the study, patients were asked to participate in 60-minute Tai Chi sessions twice weekly for 12 weeks. Each session included: a 10-minute self-massage; 30 minutes of Tai Chi movement; 10 minutes of breathing technique; and 10 minutes of relaxation.
At the end of the 12-week period, the people in the study practicing Tai Chi exhibited a significant decrease in knee pain.
The researchers also observed improved physical function and self-efficacy in the Tai Chi group.
“Tai Chi is a mind-body approach that appears to be an applicable treatment for older adults with knee osteoarthritis,” the researchers said.
They added that physical components of Tai Chi are consistent with current exercise recommendations for osteoarthritis, which include range of motion, flexibility, muscle conditioning, and aerobic work out.
The researchers also believe that the mental feature of Tai Chi addresses negative effects of chronic pain by promoting psychological wellbeing, life satisfaction, and perceptions of health.
The study was published in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology.
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