As a physician, I have been fascinated to observe the benefits of practising the Taoist Tai Chi® arts in myself and others. There is no simple scientific explanation for this. However, scientific studies can observe its effects. In 2014 at my first workshop, I asked the instructor, Dr. Bruce McFarlane, whether research had been done and he said yes. Curious, I searched the literature and discovered many studies. I thought it was important for family physicians to know about this. Physicians like scientific evidence to inform their recommendations. So I invited Bruce to write a paper with me to summarize these studies and “get the word out”.
We worked on this for over a year — there were so many studies! Health benefits of tai chi: What is the evidence? was published in November 2016 in Canadian Family Physician, the official journal of the College of Family Physicians of Canada (aussi disponible en français). It describes the results of many hundreds of studies on over 20 different physical and mental health conditions as well as fitness indicators, such as balance, flexibility and strength.
At the end of the paper, we identified some drawbacks to this research. The studies included different types of tai chi so not all of them had a Taoist or health recovery focus. And, there are benefits of tai chi that have not yet been measured. Nonetheless the results are remarkable. Now the results of the FLK survey on the benefits of Taoist Tai Chi® are coming in. The results are impressive — and consistent with what we found in the scientific literature.
People often seek the advice of their family physician before starting a new exercise program. There are now two reports that people can show their family physician or health care provider so that they have the evidence they need to feel confident to recommend Taoist Tai Chi®.