Exploring Tai Chi Exercise and Mind-Body Breathing in Patients with COPD in a Randomized Controlled Feasibility Trial

Author: Kristen M Kraemer1,2, Daniel Litrownik1,2, Marilyn L Moy3,4, Peter M Wayne2, Douglas Beach3,5, Elizabeth S Klings6, Harry Reyes Nieva3, Adlin Pinheiro1, Roger B Davis1,3, Gloria Y Yeh1,2
1 Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
2 Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
3 Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
4 Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Section, Department of Medicine, Veterans Administration Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
5 Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
6 The Pulmonary Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Conference/Journal: COPD
Date published: 2021 Jun 9
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1080/15412555.2021.1928037. , Word Count: 237

In this pilot feasibility randomized controlled trial, participants with moderate to severe COPD were randomized to a 12-week tai chi or MBB intervention. Participants were assessed at baseline, 12 weeks, and 24 weeks. Feasibility, as assessed by intervention adherence, was the primary outcome. We also estimated preliminary between-group differences in COPD symptoms and health-related quality of life, cognitive-emotional function, and functional status across three timepoints: baseline, 12, and 24 weeks. A total of 92 participants were randomized 2:1 to tai chi (n = 61) or MBB (n = 31). The overall group adherence in the first 12 weeks was 62% in tai chi and 75% in MBB. From baseline to 12 weeks, tai chi demonstrated greater improvements in depressive symptoms (Cohen's d effect size (ES) = -.53; adj mean diff = -2.31 [-5.7, 1.07]), 6-minute walk test distance (ES = .47; adj mean diff = 62.04 [2.85, 121.22]), social support (ES = .36; adj mean diff = .19 [-0.11, 0.49]) and chair stand (ES = .44; adj mean diff = .91 [-0.05, 1.86]). Only improvements in social support were maintained at 24-week follow-up. Tai chi and MBB are feasible for individuals with COPD. Preliminary effects suggest that while our mindful breathing intervention may not be sufficient to impact outcomes, tai chi may result in short-term benefits in mood, social support and functional capacity. More work is needed to better understand mindful breathing for COPD and to examine methods for maintaining improvements from tai chi over time.Supplemental data for this article is available online at https://doi.org/10.1080/15412555.2021.1928037 .

Keywords: Tai chi; feasibility study; mind-body breathing; randomized controlled trial.

PMID: 34106027 DOI: 10.1080/15412555.2021.1928037