We would all like to maintain our independence as we get older. However, disability and fear are the leading causes of the loss of independence in older adults. Fear and disability are most often a result of falls. If you are afraid of falling, chances are you will limit your physical activity which means you will either refrain from activities or have to rely on someone else for your activities. Similarly, if you are disabled, you may not be able to walk or drive. Therefore, preventing falls is important to maintaining our independence. Tai Chi improves leg strength, balance and boosts confidence and therefore prevents falls.
Researchers in Oregon conducted a study to evaluate the impact of Tai Chi on preventing falls among older adults. The study involved a random selection of 256 older adults who led a physically inactive lifestyle. The participants included adults between the age of 70 and 92. They were placed into two groups: one group participated in Tai Chi and the second group took part in a stretching class. Both groups participated in the class 3 times a week for 6 months.
The results showed a significantly lower incidence of falls among the adults who participated in Tai Chi compared to those who were in the stretching group. Even in the instances where the participants fell, those in the Tai Chi group had a lower rate of injury than those in the stretching group. Those in the Tai Chi group also showed significant improvement “in all measures of functional balance, physical performance and reduced fear of falling.” In fact, when the researchers followed up with the Tai Chi group 6 months after the study, they found that the improvement had lasted.
Consequently, Tai Chi is an excellent choice for fall prevention. If you would like to conquer your fear of falling and develop the strength necessary to prevent falls and maintain your independence, look into Tai Chi today!
Source: Fuzhong Li, Peter Harmer, K. John Fisher, Edward McAuley, Nigel Chaumeton, Elizabeth Eckstrom, and Nicole L. Wilson Tai Chi and Fall Reductions in Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2005 60:187-194.
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