Tai Chi, the Most Well-Studied Martial Arts on Health
February 27, 2011
In their effort to assess the status of if
Martial arts can be move from an experience-based to an evidence-based exercise
treatment, researchers from China and Australia teamed up to systematically
summarize the evidence for the effects of martial arts on health and fitness.
They hoped to show the strengths of different types of martial arts, and to get
a more complete picture of the impacts of martial arts on health, and also to
provide a basis for future research on martial arts as an exercise prescription
in exercise therapy.
The researchers searched for "martial arts",
"health" and "random" in eight databases. Only randomized controlled trials and
controlled clinical trials on the health effects of martial arts were included
in the study. The final analysis included 28 papers (one general martial arts,
one kung fu, sixteen Tai Chi, six judo, three karate, and one taekwondo). Among the disciplines of martial arts, Tai Chi was the most well-studied, followed
by judo, karate, and taekwondo. Research topics varied widely, and included
health, injuries, competition, morals and psychology, and herbal medicine.
Most found positive effects on health.
Tai Chi is no-contact, low-impact, soft
body and mindfulness exercise, which has been widely adopted by elderly people
and proven to be a beneficial health promotion exercise. Research on judo,
karate, and taekwondo mainly focused on improvements to athletes' competitive
abilities, rather than on health effects.
Since martial arts are widely practiced,
their effects on physiology, morphology, immunology, and neurology should be
further studied in order to help people to select the best discipline or style
to accomplish their purposes. This necessitates categorizing and classifying the
disciplines and styles according to their effects on different body systems and
levels of contact, as well as standardizing evaluation criteria for martial
arts. Martial arts as an exercise prescription can then move from an
experience-based to an evidence-based treatment.
This study is published in the
November 2010 issue of the Journal of Evidence Based Medicine.