Tai Chi helps fight obesity

Dr Jing Sun and Cr Tom Tate

It may not be high impact or get you huffing and puffing but the gentle art of Tai Chi can reduce obesity according to a recent study.

Griffith University, in collaboration with the City of Gold Coast, has undertaken research which shows the ancient Chinese martial art can significantly improve mental and physical health as well as aid in connecting communities.

The year-long study involved 500 people between 35 and 80 years old who took weekly Tai Chi classes in 12 communities across the Gold Coast for at least a six month period. They were also required to participate in at least two and a half hours of home practice per week.

“We conducted both a pre and post evaluation program to assess people’s resilience in coping with chronic conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure and other chronic disease-related risk factors,” says Dr Jing Sun, research leader from the Griffith Health Institute’s Population and Social Health Program.

“Factors such as obesity, nutrition levels and blood pressure were looked at in detail, with the results prior to the Tai Chi period compared with those afterwards.

Overwhelmingly positive results

“The results were overwhelmingly positive, with a marked reduction in obesity and Body Mass Index seen in many of the participants,” says Dr Sun.

Using the standardised tool, the Quality of Life register, participants were also asked to rate their mental health and social support.

“Again we received favourable feedback, with many participants responding with comments such as ‘I feel there is meaningful purpose to what I am doing’ and ‘I look forward to this activity every week’.

Mayor Tom Tate says he welcomes Griffith’s interest in measuring the benefits of the City’s Active and Healthy Program which has begun with the healthy eating and aqua fit activities.

“These results provide support to a new Queensland Health report which rates the Gold Coast number one for physical activity. Over 60 per cent of Gold Coast adults now meet national physical activity guidelines.

“It puts beyond doubt that we’re the lifestyle capital of Australia. Hundreds of parks, uninterrupted beaches and kilometres of bikeways make keeping fit and healthy part of everyday life,” Cr Tate says.

Other information collected included:

  • 92.9% of people believe the program should be provided by local government such as City of Gold Coast.
  • Average distance people travelled to participate in this activity is 8 kilometres.  84 per cent of them travelled less than 10 kilometres. So convenient and close to home is preferable.
  • There are 51.3% of people who think they can not afford it if it was not subsidised by government, suggesting it is essential to have government to sponsor the program.
  • More than 92 per cent of people know City of Gold Coast subsidised this activity, and this is an attractive part of the program, having attracted a high participation rate and program completion rate.