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Innovative UQ Tai Chi program treats depression, diabetes and obesity

Promising results from an innovative UQ Tai Chi based study show depression, diabetes and obesity can all be improved through a gentle mind-body therapeutic program.

• The proportion of participants with clinical levels of depression decreased from 60 percent to 20 percent. BMI and waist circumference also significantly decreased by 4 percent and 3 percent respectively.
• This specific program may be the first exercise program that has scientifically shown significant effects of exercise alone on both depression and diabesity (diabetes and obesity).

Dr Liu Xin, a UQ scientist and a renowned expert in the field of mind-body therapy, developed this unique program for the control of depression and diabesity.
The three month pilot study, funded by the Diabetes Australia Research Trust, was conducted at The University of Queensland.
“Without involvement of any dietary intervention and high intensity training, it was very encouraging to see such impressive results over a short period of time,” Dr Liu said………….
"Other reported benefits include improvements in energy levels, sleeping patterns, urinary control, breathing, immunity, confidence, self-esteem and coping; and positive changes in life perspective and family harmony”.
"The majority of the promising findings were replicated in a following randomized controlled trial."
An extended large controlled study named SMILE* Tai Chi Program focusing on depression and obesity has recently been funded by the National Heart Foundation …….

Media contact: for more information contact Dr Liu Xin (telephone 07 3240 6122
email xin.liu@uqconnect.edu.au) or Jan King at UQ Communications (telephone 07 3365 1120).


Quotes from the Health Industry:

  • “An ancient form of exercise may offer physical and psychological benefits to healthy people and those with chronic conditions like heart disease and arthritis.  Tufts University researchers reviewed 47 studies of Tai chi, a gentle Chinese martial art involving slow, fluid movements.  In most studies, Tai Chi improved heart and lung function, increased balance and flexibility, and lowered the risk of falls in older people.  Tai Chi was also shown to reduce pain, stress, and anxiety.  The researchers plan to conduct more studies to identify why Tai Chi benefits health (Archives of Internal Medicine, March 8, 2004) *

         *Dr. Andrew Weill’s Health Newsletter

  • The Harvard Women’s Health Watch reported, “studies support Tai Chi for heart attack and cardiac by-pass patients, to improve cardiorespiratory function and reduce blood pressure”
  • The BBC reported on a U.S. study of 30 patients which found regular Tai Chi classes gave patients better movement and reduced BNP levels, a measure for heart failure
  • The University of California at Los Angeles researchers have shown that behavioral interventions and integrative exercise programs such as Tai chi can have a direct, positive effect on the immune system of older adults
  • “New research, published in the June 2009 issue of Arthritis Care and Researchsuggests that Tai chi might be particularly beneficial.  Researchers analyzed seven trials that used Tai Chi as the main intervention for patients with chronic arthritis, and the results indicated that Tai chi improved pain and disability”
  • *Harvard Health Newsletter June 2007  “Tai Chi May Help Breast Cancer Patients - Getting back to normal in terms of flexibility, muscular strength and aerobic capacity (all measures of functional capacity) after breast cancer treatment can seem daunting.  New research in a recent issue of the Journal of Supportive Oncology has found that Tai Chi Chuan, a moderate form of exercise, may be just what the physiotherapist ordered.  In this study, researchers compared how well breast cancer survivors improved functionally after they were randomize either to TCC or to psychosocial support therapy (PST) consisting of peer open discussion, educational information about nutrition, diet and exercise (but no actual exercise) and coping techniques, such as guided imagery……..The group who studied TCC significantly improved in aerobic capacity, muscular strength and flexibility whereas the PST group improved significantly only in flexibility”