A Closer Look at the Benefits of Tai Chi

Older adults concerned with their risk for a fall may want to take a second look in 2018 at activities like Tai Chi to improve balance and strength while also helping to reduce stress and get a better night’s sleep.

According to a recent study by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, in the United States falls resulting in death among seniors(65 and older) increased 31 per cent from 2007 to 2016.  Falls are the leading cause of injury and death among adults over the age of 65 and a growing public health problem. 

Staying active is an important part of fall prevention along with getting regular vision screening, assessing and treating medical problems and fall-proofing around the house.   Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art that has been practiced for nearly 2,000 years but is getting the attention of physical therapists as a useful tool to maintain balance and flexibility among older adults.  Tai Chi is easy on joints and muscles and because the practice combines meditation with movement, can help reduce stress and improve quality of sleep.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, people who regularly participated in Tai Chi has a decreased mortality rate, similar to the effects of walking or jogging. The greatest benefit was experienced by those who exercised 5 to 6 times each week. Incorporating Tai Chi into your routine could also help memory and cognitive function in older age by regaining brain elasticity. 

The take-away?  Staying active helps us improve function, boost mood, reduce stress and sharpen our minds.  Choosing an activity that won’t injure joints and can provide a body-mind workout will help older adults prevent falls and remain independent longer.  Need a short-order Mother’s Day gift idea? Look for a qualified, trained instructor and purchase a few classes to get mom started. 

Learn more about the health benefits of practicing Tai Chi by following this link to a recent study Chinese study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology