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Cystic Fibrosis Trust

Mind how you go

Study explores physical and mental health benefits of tai chi for people with cystic fibrosis.

Tai chi classA team of researchers at London South Bank University and the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospital has been exploring how the Chinese exercise tai chi can help people living with cystic fibrosis improve their emotional and physical wellbeing.

Tai chi uses slow choreographed movements, breathing exercises and mindfulness, and the team hopes to demonstrate how it can empower people with cystic fibrosis to maintain their health.

Forty adults and children with cystic fibrosis received tai chi lessons over Skype, video and in person during the nine-month study, which followed a literature review and a pilot study.

While the results are still being analysed by Professor Nicola Robinson, Dr Patricia Ronan and colleagues from the Royal Brompton Hospital, to be published later this year, initial findings reveal that almost 60% said the trial had helped their breathing, including enabling them to get more mucus out during physio. The majority of participants reported improvements in managing stress and anxiety, with some reporting improved sleep and better awareness of posture.

Dr Ronan said: "Tai chi is an adaptable, gentle exercise that can be practised standing or sitting. It may enable people with cystic fibrosis to continue exercising whilst unwell or in hospital, and may help them to manage the stress of living with this condition. Being able to learn it over the Internet will be a more cost effective way of making it accessible to a large number of people. We are very interested to find out more about whether and how it might help with this condition.

The project was a collaboration with the Tracie Lawlor Trust for Cystic Fibrosis. It was commissioned by its lead, Joseph Lawlor, who practices tai chi himself and lives with cystic fibrosis.

Find out more about tai chi.