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ADDITIVE EFFECT OF TAI CHI DURING DIETARY WEIGHT LOSS ON PHYSICAL FUNCTION AND BODY COMPOSITION IN OBESE OLDER WOMEN

L.A. Katkowski, M.C. Benson, S. Magnanti, I.E. Lofgren, F. Xu, M.J. Delmonico

J Aging Res Clin Practice 2013;2(1):78-85

Background: While exercise during dietary weight loss has been shown to improve physical function and body composition, Tai Chi during weight loss has not been studied in obese older women. Objective: To investigate the effects of Tai Chi during dietary weight loss on measures of body composition and physical function. Design: Randomized controlled trial. Setting: Laboratory setting at a university. Participants: Twenty seven obese older women randomized to a weight loss only group (WL, n=13, aged 62.7±6.0 years) or a Tai Chi plus weight loss group (TCWL, n=14; aged 60.4±5.9 years). Intervention: Both groups participated in behaviorally-based, 16-week, dietary program (modified Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) for weight loss. In addition, the TCWL group completed three sessions per week of a modified 24 form Yang style Tai Chi. Measurements: Body fat mass and the 400 meter walk. Results: Both groups significantly lost body mass (TCWL, -2.2±0.9 kg; WL, -3.7±0.9 kg; p<0.05) with no between-group differences. Body fat mass change did not differ between the groups (p=0.727). There was a borderline attenuation of fat-free mass (FFM) between the TCWL group and the WL group (p=0.056). A tendency for significance was observed between the TCWL and WL groups for leg strength (p=0.062), grip strength (p=0.070), timed up and go test (p=0.069), and FFM (p=0.056). Conclusion: Tai Chi during dietary weight loss does not appear to have a significant additive effect on global measures of physical function and most measures of body composition but may help increase muscle strength.

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