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Arch Intern Med. 2011 Apr 25;171(8):750-7. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2011.150.

Tai chi exercise in patients with chronic heart failure: a randomized clinical trial.

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  • 1Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brookline, MA 02446, USA.



Preliminary evidence suggests that meditative exercise may have benefits for patients with chronic systolic heart failure (HF); this has not been rigorously tested in a large clinical sample. We sought to investigate whether tai chi, as an adjunct to standard care, improves functional capacity and quality of life in patients with HF.


A single-blind, multisite, parallel-group, randomized controlled trial evaluated 100 outpatients with systolic HF (New York Heart Association class I-III, left ventricular ejection fraction ≤40%) who were recruited between May 1, 2005, and September 30, 2008. A group-based 12-week tai chi exercise program (n = 50) or time-matched education (n = 50, control group) was conducted. Outcome measures included exercise capacity (6- minute walk test and peak oxygen uptake) and disease-specific quality of life (Minnesota Living With Heart Failure Questionnaire).


Mean (SD) age of patients was 67 (11) years; baseline values were left ventricular ejection fraction, 29% (8%) and peak oxygen uptake, 13.5 mL/kg/min; the median New York Heart Association class of HF was class II. At completion of the study, there were no significant differences in change in 6-minute walk distance and peak oxygen uptake (median change [first quartile, third quartile], 35 [-2, 51] vs 2 [-7, 54] meters, P = .95; and 1.1 [-1.1, 1.5] vs -0.5 [-1.2, 1.8] mL/kg/min, P = .81) when comparing tai chi and control groups; however, patients in the tai chi group had greater improvements in quality of life (Minnesota Living With Heart Failure Questionnaire, -19 [-23, -3] vs 1 [-16, 3], P = .02). Improvements with tai chi were also seen in exercise self-efficacy (Cardiac Exercise Self-efficacy Instrument, 0.1 [0.1, 0.6] vs -0.3 [-0.5, 0.2], P < .001) and mood (Profile of Mood States total mood disturbance, -6 [-17, 1] vs -1 [-13, 10], P = .01).


Tai chi exercise may improve quality of life, mood, and exercise self-efficacy in patients with HF. Trial Registration Identifier: NCT00110227.

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