An aquatic therapy known as Ai Chi may help to improve the mental and physical health, and overall quality of life, in women with fibromyalgia, according to a study recently published in the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases.
Ai Chi is characterized by a set of slow movements in water, performed in a progressive sequence of increasing difficulty and accompanied with deep breathing. It is used for recreation, relaxation, fitness, and physical rehabilitation. Clinical Ai Chi is a more specialized form, used for specific therapeutic applications.
Spanish researchers and colleagues recruited 20 women with fibromyalgia, ages 45-70. All received a total of 20 sessions of an aquatic Ai Chi program lasting 45 minutes each, twice a week for 10 weeks. The researchers asked the participants to fill in a questionnaire at the beginning and at the end of the program, collecting information about the location and intensity of muscle and bone pain that they experienced.
The researchers also measured the participants’ health-related quality of life (HRQoL) using the short form 36 (SF-36) health survey, a patient reported survey of health. HRQoL is defined as the degree to which health affects a person’s daily activities, as well as their perception of physical, mental and social well-being.
The study, “A new approach to the improvement of quality of life in fibromyalgia: a pilot study on the effects of an aquatic Ai Chi program,” revealed that after 10 session of aquatic Ai Chi, perception of pain, vitality, mental health and perceived life quality had significantly improved.
“The participants of this study were highly satisfied with the treatment received, noting an improvement in their pain, relaxation and mood,” the authors wrote. “[W]ater-based Ai Chi represents a promising treatment option for pain reduction which may contribute toward decreasing the impact of the illness in the daily life of individuals with fibromyalgia as well as improving their quality of life.”
Follow-up studies including a control group should be conducted to determine how long the treatment’s positive effects last.