Practising tai chi 'aids balance'
Published on 20 December 2011 12:30 PM
Practising the ancient martial art of tai chi can improve people's spatial awareness and coordination and help them avoid potentially dangerous slips or falls, a study has found.
Scientists at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University established two groups for people aged over 70 living in care homes. One group practised tai chi for 90 minutes three times a week for four months, while the other control group were given lessons on how to play a musical instrument.
The findings of the research, which were published in the journal Age and Ageing, showed that those who practised tai chi had much better balance by the end of the study than the other volunteers.
Study leaders say that people with failing eyesight in particular would benefit from the gentle martial art as they may be at a higher risk of having a fall and tai chi improves balance.
Study author Dr William Tsang said: 'Tai chi can be a suitable form of exercise for those with visual impairment and indeed assists with improving their balance control. It would be interesting to extend this study to involve community dwelling older people, who tend to be more independent and could benefit differently from the training.'
There is existing evidence demonstrating that Tai Chi is an effective form of exercise, but is best used in the case of those older people who are yet to suffer a fall.
Copyright Press Association 2011