Tai Chi workplace program for improving musculoskeletal fitness among female computer users
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BACKGROUND: Workplace computer use has increased dramatically in recent years and has been linked to musculoskeletal disorders, a leading cause of work disability and productivity losses in industrialized nations. Tai Chi is a simple, convenient workplace intervention that may promote musculoskeletal health without special equipment or showering, yet no study has investigated Tai Chi as a workplace physical exercise for health promotion. OBJECTIVE: To examine the effects of a workplace Tai Chi (TC) intervention on musculoskeletal fitness and psychological well-being among female university employees who are computer users. METHODS: The exercise program consisted of two 50 minute TC classes per week for 12 consecutive weeks during the months of May-August 2007. Fifty-two participants were enrolled in a class conducted on campus by a professional TC practitioner during the lunch hour. Socio-demographic characteristics, including information on age, marital status, ethnicity, job category and perceived overall health were collected from all participants. Fitness testing conducted by qualified personnel was assessed pre- and post-program. The tests included resting heart rate, resting blood pressure, anthropometric measures, musculoskeletal fitness and back fitness. Psychological well-being was assessed by the Perceived Stress Scale pre- and post-program. RESULTS: There were significant positive results in several areas including resting heart rate, waist circumference and hand grip strength. Results showed that the TC program was effective in improving musculoskeletal fitness and psychological well-being. CONCLUSIONS: Significant improvements in physiological and psychological measures were observed, even at the large class sizes tested here, suggesting that TC has considerable potential as an economic, effective and convenient workplace intervention.
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