Meta-Analysis of Elderly Lower Body Strength: Different Effects of Tai Chi Exercise on the Knee Joint-Related Muscle Groups

Author: Yuan Yang1,2, Jia-Hui Li1, Nan-Jun Xu1, Wei-Yi Yang1, Jun Liu1,2
1 The Second Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou, China.
2 Bone and Joint Research Team of Degeneration and Injury, Guangdong Provincial Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Guangzhou, China.
Conference/Journal: Evid Based Complement Alternat Med
Date published: 2021 Dec 22
Other: Volume ID: 2021 , Pages: 8628182 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1155/2021/8628182. , Word Count: 291

To determine whether lower body strength such as keen extension and flexion strength may be improved by Tai Chi exercise in older adults from the perspective of evidence-based medicine.

Databases of PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library were searched up to July 1, 2021. Randomized clinical trials are adopted to compare Tai Chi exercise with sedentary behavior or other low intensity exercise in terms of influence on lower body strength rehabilitation, especially keen extension and flexion strength in people aged over 60. A meta-analysis was performed to discuss outcomes of lower body strength, knee muscle strength, and knee extension/flexion strength.

A total of 25 randomized trials involving 1995 participants fulfilled the inclusion criteria. (1) Tai Chi exercise significantly improved elderly lower body strength (-0.54, [-0.81, -0.28], p < 0.00001, I 2 = 74%), but there was no differential improvement in the strength of the knee joints (0.10, [-0.02, 0.23], p=0.11, I 2 = 34%). (2) Elderly individual lower body strength declined with age, while this trend was suppressed by Tai Chi exercise (-0.35, [0.14, 0.56], p=0.001, I 2 = 70%). (3) Although Tai Chi exercise did no significantly improve the large muscle group of knee joint extensor like quadriceps femoris (3.15, [-0.69, 6.99], p=0.24, I 2 = 26%), it showed marked enhancement to the strength of deep small muscle group of knee joint flexor (10.25, [6.90, 13.61], p < 0.00001, I 2 = 0%). The heterogeneity might be caused by distinguished measurements of muscle strength. Therefore, Tai Chi exercise specifically enhanced some certain muscle strength of knee joints and improved muscle fitness rehabilitation as well as function activity for elderly.

In this RCT meta-analysis, Tai Chi exercise has positive effects on lower body strength of elderly. Although no obvious improvement on the knee extensor is observed, it may be used as a rehabilitation treatment for training stable deep muscle groups to improve the knee flexion strength significantly.

PMID: 34976101 PMCID: PMC8716219 DOI: 10.1155/2021/8628182