Exercise for Frailty and Disability

During the last week of May, 2014 thousands of scientists gathered from around the world for the World Congress on Exercise in Medicine conference, which was held in Orlando, FL. This is the worlds largest and most prestigious conference about exercise and the medical issues that relate to exercise. The scientists congregated to present their research on the matter and learn from others in the field.While you may not think of it that way, Tai Chi is a form of exercise and that’s why such topics are relevant to the practice.

One of the presenters at the conference, Carol Garbner, PhD (Associate Professor Columbia University) discussed the relationship between frailty, heart failure and exercise. She cited a study which concluded that physical inactivity among the elderly doubles the risk of subsequent disability.  Slow walking speed (an indicator of frailty) is associated with a high risk of cardiovascular disease.

Congestive heart failure, the condition in which the heart is unable to pump adequate amounts of blood to meet the body’s needs, is the leading cause of hospitalization for people over age 65.  30 years ago bed rest was the recommended treatment for heart failure but now exercise is recommended even if the exercise must start very slowly and at modest levels.  A study of heart failure patients found that they had high levels of fat within their muscles, which contributes to muscle weakness.

Daniel Forman, MD (Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School) is also interested in heart failure. He cited a study which showed that extensive bed rest worsens many of the health deficits associated with aging, and in particular, leads to detrimental changes to the heart. You can read more about Tai Chi and heart health on our blog on the topic by clicking here.

We just celebrated Valentine’s day and while you’ve been taking care of your sweetheart, are you watching your heart? Tai Chi may be the perfect exercise for someone who has previously been physically inactive. There are many styles of Tai chi that provide a slow and modest exercise program that people can build on to regain their strength and stamina. There are even modified forms for people in wheelchairs. It can be done anywhere, from the comfort of your bedroom, a gym or a park. You don’t have to buy equipment to start and it actually relaxes you. Just because Tai Chi is gentle and fun does not mean it does not work. It is an aerobic exercise that burns calories, builds muscles and also stamina/endurance.

 
Source

Life Extension Magazine March 2015  (p.59)

Troyce Thome, Tai Chi for Health

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