Kinematics and Energy Expenditure of Sitting Tai Chi
By Lee KY, Jones AY, Hui-Chan CW, Tsang WW
Department of Rehabilitation
Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China .
August 28, 2011 -
The positive effects of Tai Chi exercise on various physical and psychological
dimensions including muscle strength, balance control, fall risk, functional
status, and aerobic capacity have been thoroughly documented. However,
traditional Tai Chi forms are difficult for older adults with poor standing
balance or who are physically dependent, and may increase the risk f falling or
This study was therefore designed to analyze the kinematics of a newly designed
12-form sitting Tai Chi and compare them with conventional Tai Chi forms. Oxygen
costs in (1) sitting, (2) sitting with sandbags restraining the limbs, (3)
standing without lower limb movement, and (4) traditional standing were
A 12-form sitting Tai Chi routine designed by the investigators with an
experienced Tai Chi master was tested. This routine was derived from Yang’s
style of the classic long-form Tai Chi. Its components were selected to
encourage trunk, upper limb, and some lower limb movements. The sitting forms
aimed to enhance control in weight shifting in different directions, and promote
sensorimotor-coordination involving the eyes, head, hands and trunk in a smooth
and coordinated manner. The 12 forms of the sitting Tai Chi routine can be
completed in about 3 minutes.
Knowledge of the kinematics characteristics of each sitting Tai Chi form
provides information useful for selecting forms for individuals with different
capabilities, and it provides general guidelines for progression. For instance,
balance training can be progressed from forms with smaller displacements to
larger excursions, depending on the degree of fragility.
To further progress, various forms can be
performed in a less stable sitting condition, such as on a cushion or even a
wobble board if balance training is the therapeutic objectives.
The energy expenditure results indicate that sitting Tai Chi is a low-intensity
exercise, which is in line with the findings of other studies. As expected,
energy expenditure increased from the sitting to the standing position. Also,
the sitting Tai Chi with sandbags, which are commonly used in rehabilitation
therapy, demands more energy expenditure. These data provide a guideline for
clinicians or practitioners selecting conditions/positions to suit different
functional and aerobic needs in the rehabilitation process.
This has been the first study investigating a newly designed sitting Tai chi
routine that targets improving the balance control and cardiopulmonary function
of subjects who have difficulty performing traditional standing Tai Chi.
However, only 1 Tai Chi master was involved. Further studies recruiting a larger
sample and different degrees of frailty or disability will be necessary to
ascertain the kinematics and determine the precise energy costs.
This study is published in the August 2011 issue of
Journal of Alternative and Complementary