Tai Chi in Chinese adults with metabolic syndrome: A pilot randomized controlled trial

Leona Yuen ling Leung, Aileen Wai kiu Chan, Janet Wing hung Sit, Ting Liu, Ruth E. Taylor-Piliae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the feasibility, acceptability and effects of a 12-week Tai Chi exercise program on cardiometabolic risk factors and quality of life in community-dwelling Chinese adults with metabolic syndrome. Design: A single blind, pilot randomized controlled trial. Setting/location: A general outpatient clinic of a community-based hospital in Hong Kong. Subjects: Ethnic Chinese, 18 years and older, who had at least three of the five criteria of metabolic syndrome defined by the National Cholesterol Education– Adult Treatment Panel III. Intervention: The Tai Chi group attended a 1 -h Tai Chi class, twice a week for 12 weeks, plus 30-minutes home practice three-times per week. The control group maintained their usual daily activities. Outcome measures: Primary outcomes were feasibility and acceptability of the Tai Chi intervention. Secondary outcome measures were cardiometabolic risk factors, quality of life, stress and Tai Chi exercise self-efficacy. Results: Study retention rate was 65% (n = 35). Overall satisfaction of completers with the Tai Chi intervention was 4.5 ± 0.63 (possible range = 1–5). When compared to controls, the Tai Chi group had significantly lower systolic blood pressure (p = 0.037) at 12-weeks. Significant within group changes for the Tai Chi group included lower diastolic blood pressure (p = 0.015), higher fasting blood glucose (p = 0.009), higher waist circumference (females only, p = 0.007), and better perceived mental health (p = 0.046); while controls had significantly higher fasting blood glucose (p = 0.031), and higher waist circumference (females only, p = 0.003). Conclusion: The study intervention was feasible and acceptable for Chinese adults with metabolic syndrome. While not powered to find statistically significant differences, positive and negative changes were observed in some cardiometabolic risk factors and quality of life. Further investigation with a larger sample size and longer study period is needed to explore potential environmental factors that may have influenced the study results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-61
Number of pages8
JournalComplementary Therapies in Medicine
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Cardiometabolic risk factors
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Quality of life
  • Tai Chi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and Manual Therapy
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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