BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE
This study sought to determine the effect of tai chi on patients with fibromyalgia, by: (1) comparing it with aerobic exercise, which is a standard treatment for patients with fibromyalgia; and (2) testing whether the effectiveness of tai chi depends on its dosage or duration.
Researchers recruited 226 adults with fibromyalgia. 75 were assigned to an aerobic exercise group, and the remaining 151 were assigned to one of four tai chi groups. The aerobic group ran twice weekly for 24 weeks. They were supervised to ensure that they ran at the intended intensity (approximately 70% of estimated maximum heart rate). The four tai chi groups all performed "yang" style tai chi, but for different dosages: once a week for 12 weeks; twice a week for 12 weeks; once a week for 24 weeks; and twice a week for 24 weeks.
Participants were followed for 52 weeks. Adherence was encouraged in-person and by telephone. Before the exercise program and at 24 weeks, researchers collected data from the revised fibromyalgia impact questionnaire (FIQR). They also measured scores in patients' global assessment, anxiety, depression, self-efficacy, coping strategies, physical functional performance, functional limitation, sleep, and health-related quality of life.
Each group improved in most outcomes, but the tai chi groups improved statistically significantly more on the primary outcome of FIQR (5.5 point difference on an 100 point scale). The combined tai chi groups also improved more on anxiety, self-efficacy,