BALANCE DISORDERS. T'ai Chi practitioners fall only half as much as those practicing other balance training, as reported by an Emory University study, and others.
Try tai chi to improve balance, avoid falls
Posted August 23, 2012, 9:00 am
Stephanie Watson, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch
Compared to the pumping intensity of spin or Zumba, a tai chi class looks like it's being performed in slow motion. Watching the gentle, graceful movements of this ancient Chinese practice, it's hard to imagine that tai chi can burn off a single calorie or strengthen muscles. But this exercise program is far more dynamic than it looks.
"The slowness that you see from the outside can be deceptive," says Dr. Peter Wayne, research director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
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Tai Chi May Help Seniors Avoid Falls
Fitness, Flexibility, Balance, and Confidence Improved in 12-Week Study
June 28, 2005 -- Tai chi, an ancient Chinese martial art, may improve senior citizens' strength and help them avoid falls, South Korean researchers find.
. . . The researchers tested tai chi in older adults. The slow, gentle, and continuous movements help them develop stronger muscles, better balance control, concentration, and psychological well-being.
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Popular media, health media, and government must increase attention to stunning emerging research, including the UCLA study indicating Tai Chi participants enjoyed a 50% increase in immune system resistance to viral infection.
RESEARCH RESULTS AND MORE ON BALANCE:
They found benefits including:
· Stronger knees and ankles
· Better balance and flexibility
· Improved walking
· More confidence in the ability to avoid falls
The tai chi students had fewer falls than others who didn't take the class.
. . . Their study appears in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.
About Tai Chi
Tai chi uses slow, fluid body movements. It's not a jarring form of exercise.
Tai chi has gotten attention from scientists for nearly a decade. The first two tai chi studies funded by the National Institute of Aging were published in 1996.
Those studies found many of the same benefits as seen in the new South Korean study.
. . . Falls in Seniors
Every year, about 30% of people aged 65 and older -- and living on their own -- fall. Falls are more common in long-term care facilities, where 40%-50% of residents fall in any given year. Some of the risk factors that lead to falls in seniors include imbalance, muscle weakness, and lack of flexibility -- all of which are modifiable, they write.
. . . Strength, Flexibility, Balance
The 12-week program was finished by 29 tai chi students and 30 people in the comparison group.
The tai chi students had stronger knees and ankles than their peers. They also improved in flexibility and walking.
SOURCES: Choi, J. Journal of Nursing, July 2005 vol 51: pp 150-157. News release, National Institute on Aging. News release, Journal of Advanced Nursing.
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