Regular tai chi (TC) practice can significantly improve cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) in elderly people, report the authors of a systematic review carried out in China. Twenty-four studies with 2155 participants were included in their meta-analysis. Tai chi significantly increased the maximum rate of oxygen consumption (VO2 max), leading to an overall reduction in heart rate, and an increase in O2 pulse (ratio of oxygen consumption to heart rate) in individuals who practiced TC regularly, compared with those who did not. Subgroup analysis also showed an increase in the vital capacity (VC, the total volume of air that can be displaced from the lungs by maximal expiratory effort) in individuals practicing TC. When samples were further stratified by duration of TC practice, subgroup analysis suggested that individuals practising TC over a period of 24 weeks showed no significant difference in VC, while those practicing TC over a 48-week period showed a significant increase, and this increase in VC was significantly correlated with TC practice duration.

A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Tai Chi Training in Cardiorespiratory Fitness of Elderly People. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2022 Mar 16;2022:4041612.