Research Identifies Tai Chi as Effective Smoking Cessation Tool

Research led by John E. Lewis, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, has identified Tai Chi exercise as an effective intervention to treat tobacco addiction.

The study, “A Pilot Feasibility and Acceptability Study of a Tai Chi Exercise Intervention on Smoking Cessation,” showed that post-intervention 11 out of 12 participants smoked less and seven (58 percent) had quit altogether. The findings were published in the Journal of Addiction and Therapy.

Tobacco use, the study reports, is still the number one cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States and contributes to nearly $156 billion in annual lost productivity. However, a poll conducted by the Centers for Disease Control found that 69 percent of adult smokers want to quit.

The researchers, which also included senior author Janet Konefal, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor of family medicine and community health, found that Tai Chi can offer an alternative method for smoking cessation, while simultaneously improving other indicators of overall health status.

“Our findings suggest that Tai Chi is effective for helping participants either stop smoking or reduce their habit,” Lewis said. “It also improves systolic blood pressure and self-assessment of multiple quality of life domains.”

Participants, smokers 18 years or older, performed Tai Chi three times a week for 12 weeks, after which smoking cessation, quality of life, subjective stress and self-reported physical activity were evaluated.

At the three-month follow up, three of four participants reported that they were no longer smoking. General health, vitality, social function and bodily pain also showed improvement post-intervention, at the three-month follow up or both, and systolic blood pressure decreased at the three-month follow up assessment.
Other Miller School co-authors are Andrew R. Pangilinan, Lawrence Chen, M.B.A., Eduard Tiozzo, Ph.D., and Judi M. Woolger, M.D.

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