Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology



First Advisor

Matthew J. Delmonico


Background: Obesity is a risk factor for many chronic diseases in older women. Tai Chi is an alternative exercise that has not been thoroughly investigated in this population in a community setting for its effects on body fat mass when combined with dietary weight loss. Methods: A 16-week community-based intervention using Tai Chi and behaviorally-based dietary weight loss (TCWL, n=29) in older (68.2 ± 1.5 yr) obese (BMI=35.4 ± 0.8kg/m2) women was conducted compared to a control group (CON, n=9; BMI=38.0 ± 1.5 kg/m2; age=65.5 ± 2.7 yr). Primary and exploratory outcomes included were body fat mass, BMI, percent fat (via bioelectrical impedance), fat-free mass, hip circumference, waist circumference, and waist to hip ratio. Participants in the TCWL group engaged in twice weekly Tai Chi sessions (~50 min) and once weekly nutritional weight loss meetings. The CON group was asked to continue with their daily routines. Results: The TCWL group did not see changes (p < 0.05) when compared to the CON group in weight (-1.6 ± 0.5 kg vs. -1.1 ± 0.9 kg, p=0.66), body fat mass (-3.0 ± 1.5 kg vs. 1.5 ± 2.8 kg, p=0.16), BMI (-0.7 ± 0.2 kg/m2 vs. -0.4 ± 0.3 kg/m2 p=0.53), or waist circumference (-4.8 ± 1.2 cm vs. -3.0 ± 2.2 cm, p=0.48). There was also a lack of significant change (p < 0.05) between groups in percent body fat (-0.3 ± 0.2 % vs. -0.4 ± 0.4% p=0.10), fat-free mass (-0.7 ± 0.4 kg vs. -0.9 ± 0.7 kg, p=0.81), hip circumference (-0.2 ± 0.8 cm vs. -0.9 ± 1.4 cm, p=0.67) and waist to hip ratio (-0.03 ± 0.01 vs. -0.03 ± 0.02, p=0.69). Conclusion: The results from this study show that the combination of Tai Chi and dietary weight loss is not effective in altering key measures of body composition in obese older women. There is need for further research with more substantial weight loss and when combined with other exercise modalities.