Date of Completion


Embargo Period



balance, blood pressure, complimentary medicine, older adults

Major Advisor

Linda S. Pescatello

Associate Advisor

Beth A. Taylor

Associate Advisor

Crystal L. Park

Associate Advisor

Susan S. Glenney

Associate Advisor

Richard H. Fortinsky

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Tai Chi has demonstrated salutary health benefits, but whether tai chi interventions tailored for specific health outcomes will result in different health benefits remains unknown. Therefore, we compared the health benefits of two different Tai Chi interventions targeted for improvements in either blood pressure (BP) (PRESSURE) or balance (BALANCE). We tailored PRESSURE to emphasize breathing techniques and mental relaxation and BALANCE to emphasize movement principles that challenged balance. Subjects were randomized to PRESSURE (n=12), BALANCE (n=13), or CONTROL (n=10). Tai Chi was practiced 3 sessions/wk, 60 min/session for 12 wk. CONTROL performed daily activities. We tested the change in cardiometabolic health, balance, and functional fitness outcomes among groups with analyses of covariance with the health outcome baseline value, age, and body mass index as covariates adjusted for multiple comparisons. Subjects were physically active, Tai Chi naive (97.1%), white and older (78.9±5.7yr) with systolic BP (SBP) of 126.5±14.4 mmHg and diastolic BP of 69.3±8.4mmHg, and mostly female (82.9%). PRESSURE improved Chair Sit-to-Stand Test (CSTS) (1.0±1.8 vs. -0.6±0.8times/30sec, P=.03) versus CONTROL, and gait speed (12.8±43.3 vs. -24.1±22.4cm/sec, P=.02) versus BALANCE. Meanwhile, BALANCE improved Single Leg Stance Test (5.4±18.0 vs. -8.2±10.3sec, p=.049) and CSTS (1.0±1.7 vs. -0.6±0.8times/30sec, p=.03), and tended to lower SBP (-4.2±16.0 vs. 3.5±8.3mmHg, p=.052) versus CONTROL. Within just 3 months, physically active, Tai Chi naive older adults improved on a variety of health outcomes, independent of the type of Tai Chi practice. Future studies should confirm our findings and determine the sustainability of the accrued health benefits with a longer period of Tai Chi practice among a larger, more ethnically and gender diverse sample.

Available for download on Wednesday, November 27, 2019