Can traditional Chinese mind-body exercise benefit chronic fatigue syndrome? Original paper

In this meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, traditional Chinese mind-body exercise improved fatigue, anxiety, depression, sleep quality, and mental quality of life among adults with chronic fatigue syndrome.

This Study Summary was published on February 12, 2024.

Quick Summary

In this meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, traditional Chinese mind-body exercise improved fatigue, anxiety, depression, sleep quality, and mental quality of life among adults with chronic fatigue syndrome.

What was studied?

The effects of traditional Chinese mind-body exercise (TCME) in adults with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

The outcomes of interest included fatigue, sleep quality, anxiety, depression, and quality of life, all measured using validated scales.

Who was studied?

A total of 1,187 adults (average age of 40) living in China who were diagnosed with CFS.

How was it studied?

A meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials was conducted.

The TCME interventions included tai chi and qi gong. The comparators were passive (i.e., no treatment) or active controls (i.e., cognitive behavioral therapy, moxibustion, and point application). The intervention duration was 4–16 weeks and the average length of the exercise sessions was 20–120 minutes. Sessions were typically performed 3 or more times per week.

Subgroup analyses were conducted to determine whether the outcomes were influenced by the types of mind-body exercise, the type of background therapy, and the types of fatigue.

What were the results?

Compared to passive control groups only, TCME reduced fatigue, increased mental quality of life, reduced anxiety and depression, and improved sleep quality. TCME did not improve fatigue compared to active control interventions.

The certainty of the evidence was moderate for fatigue (vs. passive controls), anxiety, and depression and low for sleep quality, physical functioning, mental functioning, and fatigue (vs. active controls).

Anything else I need to know?

TCME may have long-lasting effects on depression — an analysis including only 2 studies reported a large reduction in depression at the 12-week follow-up time point (i.e., 12 weeks after the intervention ended) when compared to passive control interventions.

This Study Summary was published on February 12, 2024.