Chico Tai Chi Classes: How To Prevent Falls As We Get Older By Practicing Tai Chi!

Chico Tai Chi Classes: How To Prevent Falls As We Get Older By Practicing Tai Chi!

To Prevent Falls, Try Tai Chi


New analysis finds this gentle martial art works better than other exercise to keep you steady on your feet


By Teresa Carr


Every second of every day in the U.S. an older adult falls, making that the leading cause of injury and death for people 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An analysis published today in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society suggests that practicing the ancient Chinese martial art of tai chi can slash that risk by half.

Researchers analyzed results from 10 studies involving more than 2,600 patients ranging in age from 56 to 98 years old. Participants took part in hour-long tai chi classes one to three times weekly for between 12 and 26 weeks.

Taken together, results of the studies showed that compared with those who didn’t practice tai chi, those who did reduced their risk of falling by 43 percent—and halved their risk of suffering an injury due to a fall.

Most surprising: The results suggest that tai chi worked better than other approaches such as physical therapy, balance training, resistance exercises, stretching, or yoga.

“This analysis provides good evidence that tai chi is a very effective way to prevent falls,” says Michael Wasserman, M.D., a geriatrician in Los Angeles and a board member on the Health in Aging Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by the American Geriatrics Society to support research, advocacy, and education on issues related to healthcare for older adults. “That’s a benefit that you may not get from other types of activities—even strength training.”

How Tai Chi Helps

Tai chi combines a series of slow, gentle movements with breathing and mental focus. It makes sense that people who practice tai chi may not only be less likely to fall, but also be less likely to hurt themselves if they do stumble, according to Wasserman.

“It improves balance and body awareness, which gives you more control,” says Wasserman. “We all trip from time to time,” he says, but tai chi practitioners may be more adept at recovering their footing and, if they fall, “better able to control the way they land to avoid serious injury.”

Our sense of balance tends to decline with age, but it can be improved through training,  says Wasserman.

Research also suggests doing tai chi has other health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels and helping to relieve back pain.

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