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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2012 Aug;37(8):1171-80. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2011.12.007. Epub 2012 Jan 4.

Taiji practice attenuates psychobiological stress reactivity--a randomized controlled trial in healthy subjects.

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University of Bern, Institute of Complementary Medicine KIKOM, Imhoof-Pavillon, Inselspital, CH-3010 Bern, Switzerland.



Stress reducing effects of Taiji, a mindful and gentle form of body movement, have been reported in previous studies, but standardized and controlled experimental studies are scarce. The present study investigates the effect of regular Taiji practice on psychobiological stress response in healthy men and women.


70 participants were randomly assigned to either Taiji classes or a waiting list. After 3 months, 26 (8 men, 18 women) persons in the Taiji group and 23 (9 men, 14 women) in the waiting control group underwent a standardized psychosocial stress test combining public speaking and mental arithmetic in front of an audience. Salivary cortisol and α-amylase, heart rate, and psychological responses to psychosocial stress were compared between the study groups. ( number, NCT01122706.)


Stress induced characteristic changes in all psychological and physiological measures. Compared to controls, Taiji participants exhibited a significantly lower stress reactivity of cortisol (p = .028) and heart rate (p = .028), as well as lower α-amylase levels (p = .049). They reported a lower increase in perceived stressfulness (p = .006) and maintained a higher level of calmness (p = .019) in response to psychosocial stress.


Our results consistently suggest that practicing Taiji attenuates psychobiological stress reactivity in healthy subjects. This may underline the role of Taiji as a useful mind-body practice for stress prevention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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