You’ve probably seen Zoomers getting together in parks to practice tai chi. Now there’s eveidence it’s more than good exercise – it may offer relief from the chronic condition Fibromyalgia which causes widespread pain, fatigue, insomnia and multiple tender points. The syndrome can also cause psychological issues, including anxiety, depression, and memory and concentration problems, sometimes called the “fibromyalgia fog.”
Researchers divided 66 people with fibromyalgia into two groups: one group did hour-long sessions of tai chi twice a week for 12 weeks; the other had a twice-weekly wellness education class followed by gentle stretching.
The study in New England Journal of Medicine found that after 12 weeks, symptoms improved significantly for the tai chi group and little for the others.
The tai chi group reported improvements in both physical and mental symptoms including decreased pain and increased ability to do daily tasks, less fatigue, depression and anxiety; and an overall better quality of life. Patients also reported better sleep and improved physical conditioning. And those improvements were still there at 24 weeks.
So what is it about tai chi that works?
It could be the controlled breathing and movements may promote “mental tranquility” which could help with pain. And while the physical components of tai chi are important, the researchers say the most important part is mental. And lots of patients improve their depression and become good friends with each other.