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Tai Chi Scores Winning Points for Balance

By Sandy Schroeder

Balance is a big deal wherever you are in life.  It's smart to keep your balance skills up to par to power ahead and to avoid falls.

  • Moms need it to juggle toddlers, groceries and laundry 
  • Dads need it to help coach kids' soccer and climb ladders 
  • Teens need it to ride skateboards and bikes and score winning soccer goals
  • Seniors need it to avoid falls in the shower or out in the park

Tai Chi Scores for Seniors

Tai chi may be a smart exercise choice to sharpen balance skills, especially for seniors, according to Harvard Health.

Seniors scored with tai chi  in recent research published online by JAMA Internal Medicine. The study involved 670 seniors with an average age of 78, who had reported falls and mobility issues. The group was divided into three groups.

  • One group only did tai chi
  • One group only did stretching exercises
  • One group did aerobics, strength training and balance exercises
  • Each group exercised for an hour twice a week.

Results after six months endorsed tai chi's effectiveness.

  • Tai chi group experienced 58 percent fewer falls than the stretching group
  • Tai chi group had 31 percent fewer falls than the group doing several different exercises

What Tai Chi Does

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese practice that involves a series of movements that flow from one to the next to keep the body engaged in constant gentle motion. Students stand throughout the class and move with the instructor in slow waving motions linked to their breath. Poses gently shift the weight from one side to the other to improve balance, strength, flexibility and reflexes. People with painful knees, balance issues or other health  conditions may benefit from this low-key exercise. 

A popular version of tai chi occurred in my local park for quite a while, often drawing 20 to 30 people to each weekly session. There was a definite magic to moving slowly under the eucalyptus trees as the sun streamed through the leaves. Most of us arrived early and came away smiling, savoring every moment. 

If tai chi appeals to you, or you feel it might work for a senior that you know, take the time to observe a class and talk with an instructor. Look for community classes in your area or pull one up online and follow along at home.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Tampa, Fla.

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