After 14 weeks of practicing tai chi, older Chinese women showed improved A1c values in this study by researchers at the Beijing Sport University in China.

There were other benefits, but let’s focus on A1c.

First, the details.

  • 20 older adult Chinese women were randomly assigned to either tai chi training or the control group.
  • Tai chi was practiced 1 hour per day, 5 days a week for 14 weeks.
  • Commonly used tests of diabetes control and cholesterol, as well as resting blood pressure and heart rate were measured before and after the study.

And, the results.

  • After 14 weeks, the tai chi group had significantly lower fasting blood sugar levels, A1c values, and triglyceride levels, as well as higher blood insulin levels.
  • There were no significant differences in total cholesterol or in LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol.

The bottom line?
It’s a major commitment to spend 1 hour per day on exercise. But the number of studies supporting the value of tai chi in lowering A1c values in diabetics is piling up.

2008, University of Queensland, Australia

  • 11 adults with elevated blood glucose
  • Tai chi and qigong exercise training 1 to 1.5 hours, 3 times per week for 12 weeks
  • Small but significant -0.32% improvement in A1c

2008, Chang Gung Institute of Technology, Taiwan

  • 30 pairs of type 2 diabetes patients
  • 12-week course of tai chi exercise
  • A1c levels in type 2 diabetes patients significantly decreased

2007, several Taiwan institutions

  • 32 older adults
  • 12-week tai chi exercise program
  • A1c levels decreased significantly

2007, Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

  • 18 elderly diabetic adults
  • 6 months of weekly tai chi sessions
  • A1C decreased

According to the American Diabetes Association, An A1c (also known as glycated hemoglobin or HbA1c) test gives a picture of the average blood sugar control for the past 2 to 3 months. The results give you a good idea of how well your diabetes treatment plan is working.

8/20/08 19:42 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.