Tai Chi and Aging


In September of 2011, I posted about a fall prevention conference we participated in here in the Sacramento region, where Support For Home demonstrated various techniques, including use of Gait Belts.  The highlight of the conference, however, was Tai Chi.  There were several demonstrations of the discipline, which made a big impact on the audience and on us.

Since then, we have seen an increasing number of articles in medical and news media on the benefits of Tai Chi for all of us, but especially for seniors.  For example, WebMD has this to say:

Because tai chi often involves shifting weight from one leg to the other, it can increase both balance and leg strength in older adults.

”Tai chi is the best balance conditioning exercise in the world,” says Douglas. ”And if tai chi can cut falls in half, that’s a pretty profound thing.”

A 2001 study conducted by the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene, reported that seniors who took Tai Chi classes for an hour twice a week reported having an easier time with activities like walking, climbing, bending, lifting, eating, and dressing than their peers who did not participate in the classes.

Now, in The Telegraph (Britain), results from a new study are being reported, including:

elderly people practising Tai Chi – an ancient Chinese form of slow, meditative exercise – just three times a week can boost brain volume and improve memory and thinking.

As the exercise increases mental activity, scientists believe it may be possible to delay the onset of incurable Alzheimer’s in pensioners.

Dementia and the gradual cognitive deterioration that precedes it is associated with increasing shrinkage of the brain, as nerve cells and their connections are gradually lost.

More and more, it looks like we had all better get busy learning and adopting Tai Chi.  Research had already been quite clear about benefits of easing stress and other results.  Now it looks like we have a good tool as we go through the aging experience.

Best wishes.  Bert

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