Skip to main content
Log in

The effect of Tai Chi on health-related quality of life in people with elevated blood glucose or diabetes: a randomized controlled trial

  • Brief Communication
  • Published:
Quality of Life Research Aims and scope Submit manuscript



The aim was to assess the effects of a Tai Chi–based program on health-related quality of life (HR-QOL) in people with elevated blood glucose or diabetes who were not on medication for glucose control.


41 participants were randomly allocated to either a Tai Chi intervention group (N = 20) or a usual medical-care control group (N = 21). The Tai Chi group involved 3 × 1.5 h supervised and group-based training sessions per week for 12 weeks. Indicators of HR-QOL were assessed by self-report survey immediately prior to and after the intervention.


There were significant improvements in favor of the Tai Chi group for the SF36 subscales of physical functioning (mean difference = 5.46, 95 % CI = 1.35–9.57, P < 0.05), role physical (mean difference = 18.60, 95 % CI = 2.16–35.05, P < 0.05), bodily pain (mean difference = 9.88, 95 % CI = 2.06–17.69, P < 0.05) and vitality (mean difference = 9.96, 95 % CI = 0.77–19.15, P < 0.05).


The findings show that this Tai Chi program improved indicators of HR-QOL including physical functioning, role physical, bodily pain and vitality in people with elevated blood glucose or diabetes who were not on diabetes medication.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1



Health-related quality of life


Physical activity


  1. Song, R., Ahn, S., Roberts, B. L., Lee, E. O., & Ahn, Y. H. (2009). Adhering to a t’ai chi program to improve glucose control and quality of life for individuals with type 2 diabetes. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(6), 627–632.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Liu, X., Miller, Y. D., Burton, N. W., & Brown, W. J. (2010). A preliminary study of the effects of Tai Chi and Qigong medical exercise on indicators of metabolic syndrome, glycaemic control, health related quality of life and psychological health in adults with elevated blood glucose. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 44, 704–709.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Bize, R., Johnson, A. J., & Plotnikoff, C. R. (2007). Physical activity level and health-related quality of life in the general adult population: A systematic review. Preventive Medicine, 45, 401–415.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Wyrwich, W. K., Tierney, M. W., Babu, N. A., Kroenke, K., & Wolinsky, D. F. (2005). A comparison of clinically important differences in health-related quality of life for patients with chronic lung disease, asthma, or heart disease. Health Services Research, 40(2), 577–591.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. International Diabetes Federation Western Pacific Region and the Asian—Pacific Type 2 Diabetes Policy Group. (2005). Type 2 Diabetes: Practical Targets and Treatments (fourth edition). Melbourne: The International Diabetes Institute.

  6. Ware, J., Snow, K., Kosinski, M. (2000). SF-36 Health Survey: Manual and Interpretation Guide. Lincoln: QualityMetric, Inc.; Boston: The Health Assessment Lab.

  7. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (1995). National Health Survey: SF-36 Population Norms. Canberra: ABS.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Lin, M., & Ward, J. E. (1998). Reliability of the MOS SF-36 health status measure in Australian general practice. Australian Family Physician, 27(suppl 2), S94–S98.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Bensoussan, A., Chang, S. W., Menzies, R. G., & Talley, N. J. (2001). Application of the general health status questionnaire SF-36 to patients with gastrointestinal dysfunction: initial validation and validation as a measure of change. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 25(1), 71–77.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2003). The active Australia survey: A guide and manual for implementation, analysis and reporting. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Amstrong, T., Bauman, A., & Davis, J. (2000). Physical activity patterns of Australian adults (Results of the 1999 national physical activity survey). Canberra: Australian institute of health and welfare.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Brown, W. J., Trost, S. G., Bauman, A., Mummery, K., & Owen, N. (2004). Test-retest reliability of four physical activity measures used in population surveys. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 7(2), 205–215.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Liu, X., Miller, Y., Burton, N., Chang, H., & Brown, W. (2011). Qi-gong mind–body therapy and diabetes control: A randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 41(2), 152–158.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Hartley, L. A. (2002). Functional health status of persons with diabetes in a nurse-managed clinic. The Diabetes Educator, 28, 106.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Atlantis, E., Chow, C. M., Kirby, A., & Singh, M. F. (2004). An effective exercise-based intervention for improving mental health and quality of life measures: a randomized controlled trial. Preventive Medicine, 39(2), 424–434.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Johnson, J. A., & Maddigan, S. L. (2004). Performance of the RAND-12 and SF-12 summary scores in type 2 diabetes. Quality of Life Research, 13(2), 449–456.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


This research was funded by a grant from the Diabetes Australia Research Trust and an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) program grant (ID 301200). At the time of preparing this paper, NWB was supported by an NHMRC Program Grant (ID 569940) and XL was supported by a National Heart Foundation and beyondblue Strategic Research Project (ID G 08B 4034). We acknowledge the support of The University of Queensland St John’s College in providing the training venue for this trial. We especially acknowledge the study participants. The authors have no relevant conflict of interest to disclose.

Conflict of Interest

All authors have no financial disclosure.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Xin Liu.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Liu, X., Miller, Y.D., Burton, N.W. et al. The effect of Tai Chi on health-related quality of life in people with elevated blood glucose or diabetes: a randomized controlled trial. Qual Life Res 22, 1783–1786 (2013).

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: