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The Effective Amount of Tai Chi Exercise for Cancer Survivors

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September 27, 2021 - To manage acute, long-term, and late effects of cancer, current guidelines recommend moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic and resistance exercise. Unfortunately, not all cancer survivors are able or willing to perform higher intensity exercise during difficult cancer treatments or because of other existing health conditions. Tai Chi is an equipment-free, multicomponent mind-body exercise performed at light-to-moderate intensity that may provide a more feasible alternative to traditional exercise programs for some cancer survivors.

A systematic review done by University of Calgary, Washington University in St Louis, MO and Penn State College of Medicine evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of Tai Chi across the cancer care continuum.

Those scientists searched MEDLINE/PubMed, Embase, SCOPUS, and CINAHL databases for interventional studies from inception to 18 September 2020. Controlled trials of the effects of Tai Chi training on patient-reported and objectively measured outcomes in cancer survivors were included.

Twenty-six reports from 14 trials (one non-randomized controlled trial) conducted during and after treatment were included. Low-level evidence emerged to support the benefits of 40-60 min of thrice-weekly supervised Tai Chi for 8-12 weeks to improve fatigue and sleep quality in cancer survivors.

These findings, published by Cancer medicine in September 2021, need to be confirmed in larger trials and tested for scaling-up potential. Insufficient evidence was available to evaluate the effects of Tai Chi on other cancer-related outcomes. Future research should examine whether Tai Chi training can improve a broader range of cancer outcomes including during the pre-treatment and end of life phases.




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