Tai Chi Attenuates Psychobiological Stress Reactivity in Healthy Subjects

January 28, 2012 – Stress reducing effects of Tai Chi, a mindful and gentle form of body movement, have been reported in previous studies, but standardized and controlled experimental studies are scarce. A study by University of Bern in Switzerland investigates the effect of regular Tai Chi practice on psychobiological stress response in healthy men and women.

METHODS:

70 participants were randomly assigned to either Tai Chi classes or a waiting list. After 3months, 26 (8 men, 18 women) persons in the Tai Chi group and 23 (9 men, 14 women) in the waiting control group underwent a standardized psychosocial stress test combining public speaking and mental arithmetic in front of an audience. Salivary cortisol and ?-amylase, heart rate, and psychological responses to psychosocial stress were compared between the study groups.

RESULTS:

Stress induced characteristic changes in all psychological and physiological measures. Compared to controls, Tai Chi participants exhibited a significantly lower stress reactivity of cortisol and heart rate, as well as lower ?-amylase levels. They reported a lower increase in perceived stressfulness and maintained a higher level of calmness in response to psychosocial stress.

CONCLUSION:

he results consistently suggest that practicing Tai Chi attenuates psychobiological stress reactivity in healthy subjects. This may underline the role of Tai Chi as a useful mind-body practice for stress prevention.
This study is published in January of 2012 by the Psychoneuroendocrinology journal.

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