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.


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.


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.


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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