Sun Style Tai Chi can be an effective training method for people with COPD, according to a newly released study[†] from Concord Repatriation General Hospital in Sydney, Australia. After 12 weeks of training, Sun style tai chi students demonstrated significantly better endurance, improved balance, and a better quality of life, compared to the control group.
What is COPD?
COPD usually refers to Chronic bronchitis or emphysema. It blocks and narrows the airways and inflames the lungs causing obstruction. In roughly 80% of cases, COPD is attributed to smoking. Other causes include fossil fuel emissions.
Major cause of death.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), COPD is the fourth or fifth leading single cause of death with approximately 2,740,000 deaths worldwide. It is surpassed only by heart attacks, strokes, and acute respiratory infections. In places such as rural China and Malaysia, where smoking rates are particularly high, COPD is the leading cause of death, due to the prevalence of smoking. 
The European Respiratory Journal [††] reported on August 9, 2012 on a study titled “Short form Sun-style Tai Chi as an exercise training modality in people with COPD”
The authors of the study were Regina Wai Man Leung, of the Department of Physiotherapy at Concord Pepatriation General Hospital
The purpose of the study was to ascertain the effect and intensity of the Sun style Tai chi short form  in people with COPD.
The study involved eligible participants placed randomly in the tai chi group or a control group.
The tai chi group trained twice per week for just under three months. Those who completed the entire session were then given a peak exercise test called an “incremental shuttle walk test” and the Sun style tai chi short form while their VO2 (oxygen consumption) was measured.
38 of the 42 initial participants completed the the course, and 15 of those completed the test. These showed an “significantly increased” endurance (from 186 seconds to 510 seconds). As well, they reduced sway in a semi tandem standing test. In the Chronic Respirator Disease Questionaire they increased their total score (11 points, 4 to 18). The exercise intensity of Sun Style Tai Chi was 53(18)% of VO2 reserve.
The control group, which followed the usual medical management procedure (which did not include exercise), showed no significant change over the period of the study.
“Sun Style Tai chi (SSTC) was an effective training modality in people with COPD achieving a moderate exercise intensity which meets the training recommendations.”
> ~ World Health Organization – Data and Statistics
 ~ Sun Style Tai Chi Short Form
Sun style tai chi is one of the major recognized styles of tai chi tai chi. It was created by Sun Lutang 孙禄堂(T) / 孫祿堂(S) / Sūn Lùtáng (pinyin) (1860-1933). The style incorporating elements from Xing Yi and Bagua and Wu Yuxiang style Tai Chi. The traditional long routine has 97 movements. There are several simplified “short” routines. It is not clear from the abstract of this study which short form was used. Perhaps it was the 30 posture routine created by Paul Lam or the 38 posture routine created by Li Deyin. It is unlikely that they used the Sun style 77 posture international standard routine.
 ~ Incremental Shuttle Walk Test
The subject walks around two cones set 9m apart. A series of beeps plays on an audio recording to indicate the pace at which the subject must walk. This pace begins slowly but gradually increases for as long as the subject is able to keep up, until they are out of breath, or until the test ends.
The number of laps between the cones (shuttles) is is the determining measure for the test.
The results of the ISWT can be used to prescribe the intensity of walking exercise (seeExercise Training section).
Before the test the examiners record blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, and Dyspnoea score.
After the test, the subject’s oxygen saturation, heart rate, and dyspnoea rating are taken again.
Two minutes later, the oxygen saturation and heart rate are taken again to determine the recovery rate.
Improvement is measured by the change in the distance walked. An improvement of 47.5 metres in the Incremental Shuttle Walk Test indicates a “slight improvement” and an increase of 78.7 metres represents “improvement”
 ~ VO2
VO2 maximum is the measure of the body’s ability to move use oxygen during incremental exercise. It is seen as an indicator of the physical fitness. The name is derived from V – volume, O2 – oxygen, max – maximum.
VO2 max is expressed either as an absolute rate in litres of oxygen per minute (l/min) or as a relative rate in millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of bodyweight per minute (ml/kg/min). The latter expression is often used to compare the performance of endurance sports athletes.
 ~ Chronic Respirator Disease Questionaire (CRQ)
The CRQ is an “interviewer-administered questionnaire measuring both physical and emotional aspects of chronic respiratory disease.”
It was developed by Dr. GH Guyatt of the Dept. of Clinical Epidemiology at McMaster University Med. Centre in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
[†] ~ Short-form Sun-style Tai Chi as an exercise training modality in people with COPD
– Regina Wai Man Leung, Zoe J McKeough, Matthew J Peters, andJennifer A Alison.
- Dept of Physiotherapy, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, Sydney Australia
- Discipline of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
- Dept of Thoracic Medicine, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, Sydney, Australia
Regina Wai Man Leung, Dept of Physiotherapy, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, Hospital Road, Concord NSW 2139 Australia,
[††] ~ European Respiratory Journal
Share this page