A 2020 review synthesized evidence from more than 200 meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials with over 100 unique health outcomes. It found there is evidence supporting tai chi in the improvement of physical and mental health among adults with cancer, neurologic disorders such as Parkinson disease, metabolic diseases, cardiopulmonary diseases including heart failure and coronary artery disease, musculoskeletal diseases such as fibromyalgia, and psychological disorders.
Tai chi improves balance and reduces falls. A 2017 systematic review and meta-analysis of 10 studies and 3000 patients concluded that persons in the tai chi experimental group experienced a significantly lower chance of falling at least once and a lower rate of falls altogether than persons in the control group.
B. Cognitive Function in Elders
There are 21 studies (including 12 randomized controlled trials) of tai chi in elders, examining the impact on cognitive function. A meta-analysis demonstrated a large effect size (0.9) when comparing tai chi with nonintervention controls and a moderate effect size (0.5) when comparing tai chi with exercise controls. Randomized controlled trials of cognitively impaired adults (mild cognitive impairment and dementia) showed smaller (0.3) but statistically significant effect size when tai chi was compared with other active interventions. A 2016 randomized controlled trial in older adults with mild cognitive impairment showed both a significantly reduced fall risk and significantly improved cognitive function.
A meta-analysis of 15 randomized controlled trials and 6 nonrandomized controlled trials concluded that there were beneficial effects of tai chi in improving motor function, depression, balance, and functional mobility in patients with Parkinson disease. A three-arm randomized controlled trial of 195 patients with Parkinson disease found significant reduction in falls in the tai chi group compared to the stretching group.
A 2017 meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials found evidence that Tai chi significantly improved 6-minute walking distance, left ventricular ejection fraction, serum BNP, and quality of life.
et al. Tai chi for essential hypertension: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2020;22:25.
et al. Tai chi for chronic illness management: synthesizing current evidence from meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials. Am J Med. 2021;134:194.