12/22/2009 - News

Get Tai-Chi-ing!

By: Robert W. Griffith, MD


Tai chi was originally created as a Chinese martial art. Today it's seen as a slow, graceful exercise program that some people call "a moving meditation". Its health benefits have been revealed in clinical studies. A recent one found that tai chi can boost immunity, helping protect older people against shingles. Other studies report lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.

The most recent major study describes how tai chi can prevent falls by older citizens. A study reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society comes from Australia ; it was a randomized controlled study of 700 people over 60 (average age 69) who undertook a 16-week program of community-based tai chi classes (one hour once a week). Falls during the subsequent weeks were counted, and balance was assessed using 6 balance tests.

The likelihood of falling was reduced in those doing tai chi to a level that was 72% that of those without such a program; this was after 16 weeks of tai chi. After 24 weeks of follow-up, the number of falls was reduced to 67%. There was no difference in the percentage of participants who had a fall - the improvement clearly came in those with a propensity to falling. Balance was improved in the tai chi subjects in 5 of the 6 balance tests.

I've written of the benefits of tai chi several times in the last 12 months. I think it's about time that I start to practice what I preach and sign up for classes.



HealthandAge Blog


Created on: 09/16/2007
Reviewed on: 12/22/2009

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