Most seniors worry about falling at one time or another, and this fear of falling can totally change a person's life. It can prevent them from doing the things they like to do, cause them to move around less and force seniors to spend more time at home.
A new study finds that tai chi can reduce the risk of falling in people who have already had problems with falls and help them develop better balance. Tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that is today practiced as a form of gentle exercise. It has sometimes been called meditation in motion and combines postures and gentle movements with mental focus, breathing and relaxation. It requires no special clothing and can be practiced while walking, standing or even sitting.
Tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that is practiced today as a form of gentle exercise. It has sometimes been called meditation in motion.
The other half received six months of hour-long tai chi classes, conducted once a week in their homes.
In addition to their weekly sessions, people were also asked to perform either LET or tai chi at home every day during the six-month study and during the entire year of follow-up. Participants kept diaries and recorded any falls that occurred.
After six months of training, people in the tai chi group were significantly less likely to experience an injury-causing fall than were people in the LET group. Even a year after taking the training, people who took tai chi were about 50 percent less likely to experience an injury-causing fall compared to people in the LET group.
Earlier research has shown that tai chi reduces falls and improves mobility in people with Parkinson's disease.
The study appears in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society and is freely available.