Influence of personal patterns of behavior on the effects of Tai Chi: a pilot study
Environ Health Prev Med
Influence of personal patterns of behavior on the effects of Tai Chi: a pilot study
Masahiro Toda 0 1 2
Rei Den 0 1 2
Masako Hasegawa-Ohira 0 1 2
Kanehisa Morimoto 0 1 2
Tai Chi Exercise 0 1 2
0 K. Morimoto Twin Research Center, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine , Suita, Osaka , Japan
1 M. Toda Department of Pharmacology, Osaka Dental University , Hirakata, Osaka , Japan
2 M. Toda (&) R. Den M. Hasegawa-Ohira K. Morimoto Department of Social and Environmental Medicine, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine , 2-2 Yamada-oka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871 , Japan
Objectives To investigate the influence of individual patterns of personality and behavior on the change in mood status after a brief period of Tai Chi exercise. Methods The mood status in 22 healthy females was evaluated before and after a period of Tai Chi exercise using the Profile of Mood States (POMS) score. Patterns of personal behavior were also assessed by written questionnaire. Results In the type A behavior pattern group, the score for total mood disturbance decreased significantly after a brief period (20 min) of Tai Chi exercise. No change was observed in the type B behavior pattern group. Conclusions These findings suggest that a brief period of Tai Chi exercise is mentally beneficial, particularly to individuals with type A characteristics.
Patterns of behavior
Tai Chi has been receiving attention worldwide as an
activity that promotes physical health and mental
wellbeing. Tai Chi is a form of mobile meditation that
combines moves from ancient Chinese martial arts with breath
control and relaxation [
]. It is characterized by a series of
slow body movements without a break or pause and can be
enjoyed irrespective of age or gender. Many studies on the
effects of Tai Chi have been conducted. In the long term,
Tai Chi can favorably enhance cardiorespiratory function
] and may improve physical function, such as body
] or gait performance [
]. Furthermore, even
in the form of brief exercise, it can improve self-reported
mood and relieve stress [
]. To the best of our
knowledge, however, there have been no studies investigating
individual variation in the effects of Tai Chi. In the pilot
study reported here, we examined the influence of
individual patterns of personality and behavior on how mood is
affected by a brief period of Tai Chi exercise.
Materials and methods
This study was intended as a preliminary evaluation for a
larger intervention study. Approval for the study was
obtained from the Ethics Committee of the Osaka
University, following which 22 healthy female volunteers
(mean age 68.9 years) belonging to a local Tai Chi class
were enrolled. Written informed consent was obtained
from the subjects. The subjects performed classical
Yangstyle Tai Chi, the most popular type, for 20 min, during
which time they tried to imitate the instructor’s motions
and postures at the same speed and with the same
technique. To evaluate their mood status quantitatively, before
Type A behavior Type B behavior
pattern (n = 14) pattern (n = 8)
and after the exercise period, the subjects were asked to
complete the 30-item Profile of Mood States (POMS) [
], which is a self-rating questionnaire consisting of six
mood dimensions: Tension–Anxiety (T–A), Depression–
Dejection (D), Anger–Hostility (A–H), Vigor (V), Fatigue
(F), and Confusion (C). The total mood disturbance (TMD)
score is calculated by subtracting the V score from the sum
of scores for the other dimensions. As a control, the POMS
questionnaire was completed at the same time on a day that
the subjects did not have a Tai Chi class. Both
experimental days were separated by just 1 week (starting at
1500 hours, Tuesday), and the order of the two
measurements was randomized to cancel possible sequential
Prior to the experiment, the participants were asked to
complete a written questionnaire designed to assess
patterns of behavior by means of the Tokai University Type A
Pattern Scale [
]. Based on the answers, the subjects
were categorized as having either type A or type B
behavior patterns. Health Practice Index (HPI)  scores
were also measured to assess lifestyle.
Student’s paired t test was performed to compare mood
status before and after Tai Chi exercise. Values were
considered to be significantly different when p \ 0.05.
The D, A–H, F, and C scores of the type A behavioral
group showed a statistically significant decrease after Tai
Chi exercise. This was reflected in a statistically significant
decrease in the TMD score. These findings suggest that,
particularly for individuals with type A characteristics, Tai
Chi improves mood. Tai Chi is a mind–body exercise with
breath control, relaxation, and meditation [
] that may,
therefore, soothe impatient individuals. In contrast, for type
B individuals, who are characteristically calm by nature,
Where applicable, values are given as the mean ± standard deviation
the mood effects of Tai Chi are less obvious. A previous
study found significantly higher POMS scores for
individuals with type A characteristics [
]. In our study,
before the Tai Chi exercise (baseline), the POMS scores in
question (D, A–H, F, and C) tended to be somewhat higher
in the behavioral type A group than in the type B group, but
this difference was not statistically significant. However,
the lack of effect in the type B group may have resulted
from a small sample size (n = 8). Larger populations are
needed for future studies. In addition, since the intensity of
Tai Chi exercise is comparable to that of brisk walking [
these results could also be interpreted as resulting from
mere physical activity. However, in a number of previous
studies, POMS scores were found not to be affected by
brisk walking [
We failed to find any significant change in the T–A
score in the type A group following a brief period of Tai
Chi exercise. This may have been due to how the Tai Chi
exercise was conducted: subjects doing their best to imitate
the instructor’s motions and postures at the same speed and
fine detail. It is possible that the tension of type A subjects
persisted throughout the 20-min period of exercise. In
addition, we found no significant change in V scores. In
contrast, Jin studied 24 Tai Chi practitioners and reported
an enhancement of vigor after 60 min of Tai Chi exercise
]. This discrepancy in results may possibly be due to the
shorter exercise period in our study. Further investigation is
required to clarify this point.
Tai Chi exercise
Type A behavior
pattern (n = 14)
Type B behavior
pattern (n = 8)
176.1 ± 30.8
154.5 ± 9.1*
Values are expressed as the mean ± SD
POMS Profile of Mood States, T–A tension–anxiety, D depression–dejection, A–H anger–hostility, V vigor, F fatigue, C confusion, TMD total
* p \ 0.05, ** p \ 0.01, *** p \ 0.001 (Student’s paired t test): in terms of being significantly different from ‘‘before Tai Chi exercise’’
In this pilot study, we found that a brief period (20 min)
of Tai Chi exercise was mentally beneficial, particularly to
individuals who fall into the behavioral type A category,
which is associated with higher coronary risk [
number of previous studies have reported that long-term Tai
Chi practice can favorably enhance cardiorespiratory
]. Taken together, these findings suggest that
Tai Chi may be helpful in preventing coronary heart
disease. Other previous studies have found that short- or
longterm Tai Chi exercise can decrease the levels of a
physiological stress marker, cortisol [
7, 8, 19
]. To further elucidate
individual variation in the mental effects of Tai Chi and its
mechanism, we are planning further investigations using a
more multifaceted approach, including objective markers.
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