Elderly people doing Tai Chi

Tai Chi could improve quality of life for people living with COPD

A summary of research published in PLOS One

New research suggests that meditation, breathing techniques and Tai Chi could help improve symptoms caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The research, published in PLOS One, aimed to understand whether activities that target the mind and the body would support people living with COPD to develop healthy behaviours and help manage their symptoms.

What did the study look at?

123 people living with COPD were included in the study. Participants were split into 3 groups for a 12-week trial: one group took Tai Chi classes, another group took part in a mind-body breathing exercise course and a final group underwent an education course about healthy behaviours.

Researchers conducted interviews with all participants after they completed their 12-week course. They were asked about their awareness and knowledge of healthy behaviours and self-care, as well as how they were feeling – both physically and mentally.

What do the results show?

Compared to the education group, participants who took part in both the Tai Chi and the breathing exercise course noted more improvements in awareness of self-care and their knowledge of breathing exercises that could help their condition. They also demonstrated that they were better able to manage their condition to help improve their symptoms – particularly their breathlessness and anxiety.

Compared to the breathing group, those who had taken part in the Tai Chi course talked more about their intentions to continue with healthy behaviours and physical activity to improve their condition. Those in the education group talked less about what they needed to do to create healthy habits and change their behaviour to improve their symptoms.

Why is this important?

This study shows the benefits of both Tai Chi and a meditation course focusing on breathing exercises, to help people living with COPD. When compared to just an educational course, the courses focusing on mind-body exercises and activity showed a greater impact in helping people improve their quality of life.

Read the original research paper

Title: The impact of Tai Chi and mind-body breathing in COPD: Insights from a qualitative sub-study of a randomized controlled trial


Find out more about the benefits of physical activity and COPD