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Study : Tai Chi Versus Conventional Exercise for Central Obesity

Tai Chi Versus Conventional Exercise for Central Obesity

Central obesity measured by waist circumference is one of the five signs of metabolic syndrome, which has become increasingly common in aging adults. This study sought to determine whether tai chi is as effective as a conventional exercise program for reducing waist circumference.

Participants (n=543) ages 50 and older were assigned to one of three groups (181 in each group): tai chi, regular exercise (aerobic and strength training), or no exercise – for 12 weeks. The primary outcome was waist circumference, with body weight and other metabolic parameters assessed as secondary outcomes – measured at baseline, week 12, and week 38 (six months after the study end, to evaluate whether improvements were maintained).

At 12 weeks, the tai chi group had an average 1.8-cm decrease in waist circumference and the conventional exercise group an average 1.3-cm decrease, both relative to the control no-exercise group – both statistically significant (p<0.001). And both exercise groups experienced statistically significant weight loss compared to the no-exercise group (p<0.05). Improvements in waist circumference and body weight were maintained six months after the study ended.

The researchers conclude: “Tai chi is an effective approach to reduce waist circumference in adults with central obesity aged 50 years or older.”


  • Siu P, Yu A, Chin E, et al. Effects of tai chi or conventional exercise on central obesity in middle-aged and older adults: a three-group randomized controlled trial. Ann Intern Med 2021 Jun 1. doi: 10.7326/M20-7014.

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