Tuesday 15 March 2011

Common sense research

This is exactly the type of tai chi research that I dis-like. Although it’s all jolly good, positive stuff, my bug bear is highlighted below:
"Researchers at Tufts Medical Center in Boston performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of tai chi on psychological well-being. They reviewed the effects of tai chi on stress, anxiety, depression, mood disturbance and self-esteem. Forty studies with involving 3817 subjects met the researcher’s inclusion criteria.
The meta-analysis found significant reductions in stress, anxiety and depression and enhanced mood. Several studies also showed positive effects on self-esteem, but there was insufficient data to perform a meta-analysis for that outcome. The average age of subjects ranged from 11 to 85 years of age and included both healthy individuals and individuals with chronic conditions. The studies involved a wide range designs and the frequency and duration of tai chi practice varied widely.
The results of this analysis support the long held belief that tai chi is a beneficial mind/body practice, which relives stress and improves well-being, The research is also consistent with other recent research which shows positive psychological effects of exercise. More research will be required to show whether the benefits of tai chi on psychological well-being are equal to or greater than other exercises."
Essentially therefore, what we have is a statement of common-sense: "Exercise makes you feel better". Surprise. The key point (that I've highlighted) is the comparison to other exercise. Is Tai chi better for you psychologically than an equivalent amount of time spend in the gym or playing football or whatever? I suspect it is, but I'm not convinced. Until we know the answer to that, I'm afraid the above research can only be classed as tai chi propaganda. Truth yes, but not the whole truth.

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