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Tai Chi Beats Aerobic Exercise in Fibromyalgia

Improvement in fibromyalgia impact questionnaire scores was greater for combined tai chi groups

THURSDAY, March 22, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Tai chi is associated with greater benefit than aerobic exercise for patients with fibromyalgia, according to a study published online March 21 in The BMJ.

Chenchen Wang, M.D., from the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, and colleagues conducted a prospective 52-week comparative effectiveness trial involving 226 adults with fibromyalgia; 151 patients were assigned to one of four tai chi groups and 75 were assigned to an aerobic exercise group.

The researchers found that the revised fibromyalgia impact questionnaire (FIQR) scores improved in all five treatment groups; the improvement in FIQR scores at 24 weeks was statistically significantly greater in the combined tai chi groups versus the aerobic exercise group (difference between groups, 5.5 points). There were also significantly greater improvements in several secondary outcomes in the combined tai chi groups (patient’s global assessment, 0.9 points; anxiety, 1.2 points; self-efficacy, 1.0 points; and coping strategies, 2.6 points). Compared with aerobic exercise administered at the same intensity and duration (24 weeks, twice weekly), tai chi treatment had greater benefit (between-group difference in FIQR scores, 16.2 points). Greater improvement was seen for the groups receiving tai chi for 24 versus 12 weeks (difference in FIQR scores, 9.6).

“Tai chi mind-body treatment results in similar or greater improvement in symptoms than aerobic exercise, the current most commonly prescribed non-drug treatment, for a variety of outcomes for patients with fibromyalgia,” the authors write.

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