Tai chi recommended to fight fibromyalgia

Tai chi is as good as - or even better than - aerobic exercise for aiding people with the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia, a study has suggested.

The US trial of 226 adults with the condition showed that those who practised the martial art improved significantly more than those doing aerobic exercise over a 24-week period. Its low-impact movements mean people of any age or fitness level can take part. Aerobic exercise is currently a standard treatment for the condition. But some patients find it hard to do because their symptoms keep changing.

Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body and can also lead to increased sensitivity to pain, fatigue, muscle stiffness, memory problems and sleeping difficulties. Aerobic exercises such as walking, cycling and swimming, together with resistance and strengthening exercises, like lifting weights, are recommended to help people who have been diagnosed.

But this study, published in the British Medical Journal, says the findings suggest "it may be time to rethink what type of exercise is most effective for patients".