In a research conducted by the Arthritis Foundation's Tai Chi program, the recipients displayed reduced pain, tiredness and fatigue. They also showed relief from tightness of muscles and good health.

The findings also suggested that the recipients were able to reach, without losing equilibrium said Leigh Callahan, PhD, the study's lead author, associate professor in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and member of UNC's Thurston Arthritis Research Center.

"Our study shows that there are significant benefits of the Tai Chi course for individuals with all types of arthritis, including fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis," Callahan said. "We found this in both rural and urban settings across a southeastern state and a northeastern state."

The findings of this study will be presented by Callahan at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in Atlanta.

The study was conducted on three hundred and fifty four recipients, from New Jersey and North Carolina. The recipients were divided into two groups. One controlled group that trained with Tai Chi twice a week, for eight weeks and the others to a control group subject to delayed stimuli. The participants were assigned their groups randomly. The recipients of the groups received feedback based on their improvement.

The criteria for being recruited into the study were those diagnosed with arthritis or symptoms of arthritis. The participants must be above the age of 18 or older, moving independently. However, they did not have to be able to perform Tai Chi standing. They were eligible for the study if they could perform Tai Chi seated, Callahan said.

Self-evaluations of tiredness and fatigue, tightness of muscles and pain were recorded before and after the 8 week study. The recipients were questioned on their performance of daily activities, health in general and psychological and social measures, dependencies and over-all efficiency. Physical efficiency as well as speed, performance and manner of walking were also analyzed.

The 8 week study culminated with a group of recipients showing alleviation from pain, tiredness and fatigue and tightness of muscles. They also had an increased sense of well-being, as measured by the psychosocial variables, and they had improved reach or balance, Callahan said.