Tai Chi and Parkinson's:
A promising connection

A post by  Jurgen Zender


Have it read aloud!

Tai Chi, often referred to as meditation in motion, is an ancient Chinese martial art that relies on gentle and flowing movement sequences. Practitioners perform a series of postures and movements in a slow, graceful sequence designed to balance the body, mind and breathing. Originally conceived as a martial art, Tai Chi has evolved into a form of physical training used for both health promotion and disease prevention.

The study

A fascinating study published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry in 2023 suggests that Tai Chi may play a positive role in treating Parkinson's patients. Researchers from Shanghai observed two groups of Parkinson's patients over five years (from January 2016 to June 2021). While one group of 147 patients practiced Tai Chi for one hour twice a week and improved their technique through courses, the other group of 187 patients only received standard treatment without Tai Chi.

The study assessed disease severity in participants at the beginning of the observation period and tracked disease progression using validated scales. It was noticeable that the progression of the disease was slower in the Tai Chi group. Fewer patients needed to increase their medication, cognitive function deteriorated more slowly, and there was continued improvement in sleep and Quality of life noted. In addition, the frequency of complications such as dyskinesia, dystonia, hallucinations and restless leg syndrome was lower in the Tai Chi group.

Further studies and possible explanations

Other studies also confirm the positive effects of Tai Chi. One study showed that Tai Chi can improve motor function, balance and quality of life in Parkinson's patients (Li et al., New England Journal of Medicine, 2012). Another study found that Tai Chi can improve postural control and gait stability in older individuals, which is particularly relevant for Parkinson's patients (Hackney & Earhart, Gait & Posture, 2008).

The positive effects of Tai Chi could be explained by the combination of physical activity, breathing control and mental focus. These aspects promote not only physical fitness but also neuronal plasticity, which is of particular interest in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's.

Criticism of the study

Despite the promising results, the study has some limitations. First, the number of study participants was relatively small, with a total of 334 people. A larger sample would be necessary to draw generalizable conclusions. Second, participants were not randomly assigned to groups, which limits the validity of the results.


The study once again provides exciting evidence that Tai Chi has the potential to slow the progression of Parkinson's disease and improve the quality of life of those affected.

Please also note that this is an observational study. This means that it does not allow direct conclusions about causes and effects. In order to gain deeper insights into causal relationships, further research and studies with different methodological approaches are required.

Nevertheless, Tai Chi could be a valuable addition to standard Parkinson's treatment, but much research remains.

Supplementary links:

The Parkinson Journal is now also available as an app. For just €2,89 (€2,99 on iOS) you get a lifetime free subscription, fast loading times, push notifications and an improved typeface.

And best of all: 50% of the income goes as a donation to PingPongParkinson Deutschland eV, 25% goes into the reserve for the foundation of a non-profit Parkinson Verlags gGmbH and only 25% is needed to cover costs. All employees, editors and authors work on a voluntary basis and are therefore free of charge.

By purchasing the app, you are not only doing yourself a favour, but also making a significant contribution to the fact that the partners PingPongParkinson Deutschland eV and the Parkinson Journal can continue to work successfully and independently.

The app is currently available in an Android version, the iPhone version will be available in about 2 weeks.

Here is the app: Parkinson's Journal Android 4.0

Stay tuned.

PHP code snippets Powered By: XYZScripts.com