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Age Ageing. 2006 Jul;35(4):388-93. Epub 2006 Apr 19.

Tai Chi versus brisk walking in elderly women.

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Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, 125 Nashua Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA.



to compare the effects of a short style of Tai Chi versus brisk walking training programme on aerobic capacity, heart rate variability (HRV), strength, flexibility, balance, psychological status and quality of life in elderly women.


nineteen community-dwelling, sedentary women (aged 71.4 +/- 4.5 years) were randomly assigned to Tai Chi Chuan (TCC; n = 11) or brisk walking group (BWG; n = 8). A separate group of elderly women was recruited from the same population to act as a sedentary comparison group (SCG; n = 8). The exercise groups met for 1 h, three days per week for 12 weeks. Outcomes measured before and after training included estimated VO2max, spectral analysis of HRV (high-frequency, low-frequency power as well as high- and low-frequency power in normalised units) as a measure of autonomic control of the heart, isometric knee extension and handgrip muscle strength, single-leg stance time, the State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Profile of Mood States (POMS) and Short Form-36 (SF-36) questionnaires.


significant improvement was seen in estimated VO(2)max in the TCC group (TCC versus SCG P = 0.003, TCC versus BWG P = 0.08). The mean within-person change of high-frequency power in normalised units (HFnu) increased [8.2 (0.14-16.3)], representing increased parasympathetic activity, and low-frequency power in normalised units (LFnu) decreased [-8.7 (-16.8-0.5)], representing decreased sympathetic activity, in the TCC group only. Significant gains were also seen in the non-dominant knee extensor strength and single-leg stance time (TCC versus BWG P < 0.05).


a short style of TCC was found to be an effective way to improve many fitness measures in elderly women over a 3-month period. TCC was also found to be significantly better than brisk walking in enhancing certain measures of fitness including lower extremity strength, balance and flexibility.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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