Recent studies show that practicing Tai Chi regularly can help patients with chronic lung disease improve their respiratory function. It is a low-cost and accessible option, and it involves varied levels of physical action including stretching, coordinated movement, breathing, and best of all, it requires no equipment. Various research has shown that Tai Chi is equivalent to pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) used to improve the respiratory function of patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is an inflammatory lung disease that blocks the flow of air in the lungs and patients have a hard time breathing.
How It Helps Respiratory Function
Tai Chi engages both the body and the mind in what is called meditation in motion. According to the Lung Institute, it has various benefits for people with COPD and other lung diseases. Tai Chi is known for being in harmony with cosmic forces, and while it was developed for self-defense, it has evolved into a modern gentle exercise that promotes feelings of calmness and relaxation in the practitioner through flowing body movements.
Tai Chi involves a series of movements performed in a slow and focused manner accompanied by deep breathing. Each pose flows from one to the next and the body is in constant motion throughout the period of the exercise. It promotes deeper breathing, improves flexibility, reduces stress, increases balance and strength as well as correcting posture. For people with respiratory problems such as pulmonary fibrosis and COPD, the patient will feel better by decreasing the frequencies of breathlessness.
According to Professor Nan-Shan Zhong, MD, of the State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Disease in Guangzhou, China, Tai Chi was the better option over traditional PR after comparing the results of the Saint Georges Respiratory Questionnaire. Tai Chi also performed better over traditional PR when patients with chronic lung disease took the six-minute walk test.