Workplace computer use has been linked to musculoskeletal disorders, a leading cause of work disability and productivity losses in industrialized nations.

Researchers from York University, in Toronto, Ontario studied tai chi as a workplace physical exercise for health promotion.

First, the details.

  • 52 participants were enrolled in a class conducted by a professional tai chi practitioner during lunch hour.
  • The exercise program consisted of 2, 50-minute tai chi classes per week for 12 weeks.
  • Fitness was assessed before and after the program, and included resting heart rate, resting blood pressure, anthropometric measures, musculoskeletal fitness, and back fitness.
  • Psychological well-being was assessed using the Perceived Stress Scale.

And, the results.

  • There were significant positive results in several areas.
    • Resting heart rate
    • Waist circumference
    • Hand grip strength

The bottom line?

The authors conclude, “The tai chi program was effective in improving musculoskeletal fitness and psychological well-being.”

That’s nice.

But considering that hand/arm and neck/shoulder musculoskeletal symptoms are common among computer users — with more than 50% reporting musculoskeletal symptoms during the first year after starting a new job — it’s too bad to that the researchers couldn’t show benefit in terms of musculoskeletal abnormalities.

A no treatment group for comparison would have been instructive.

1/3/10 18:26 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.