Everyone needs to exercise, even older people. Physical activity has been shown to improve the mental and physical health of people of all ages. However, older people need something milder. One of these mild exercises is tai chi. In a study published recently in the Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, researchers found tai chi to be a safe and effective way to improve the quality of life of the elderly, particularly older men.
Tai chi is a form of ancient Chinese martial arts that involves breathing, coordinated movement, and stretching. It does not require special equipment. Although anyone can practice tai chi, this form of exercise is especially beneficial to older people because it has no impact on joints and bones, making it one of the safest ways to get moving while preventing injury. Since limited mobility is not a problem when performing tai chi, seniors can also practice in a chair, bed, or wheelchair.
In the study, a team of researchers from Iran, Norway, and the U.K. carried out a randomized controlled clinical trial to look at the effect of tai chi exercise on the quality of life of older men. To do this, the research team recruited 132 older men from an urban area in Iran, who were then divided into a treatment group and a control group. Participants in the treatment group practiced tai chi exercises for eight weeks. All participants also completed a quality of life questionnaire before and after the intervention period for the researchers to assess their quality of life.
The results showed that the mean scores of quality of life in various areas showed a statistically significant difference between the tai chi and control groups, wherein the tai chi group had improved quality of life.
With these findings, the research suggests that tai chi exercises are a safe and effective way to improve the quality of life of older men.
Tai chi enhances stability in people with Parkinson's disease: Physical activity is known to slow the decline of motor functions and prolong independence in people with Parkinson's disease. In one study, researchers assessed the effect of tai chi balance exercises on the postural stability of seniors with Parkinson's disease. Tai chi exercises were found to enhance postural stability in these individuals as the exercises promote the same rhythmic weight shifting when standing and walking. Additionally, the exercises make controlled movements when the center of gravity is displaced.
Tai chi relieves chronic pain and improves quality of life: Studies have shown that tai chi can relieve pain in people with fibromyalgia, arthritis, tension headaches, and other chronic diseases. Practicing tai chi exercises one hour twice a week for 12 weeks can improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. A 2015 analysis also examined the effects of the exercises on quality of life for older adults with at least one chronic disease, such as cancer, osteoarthritis, heart failure, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and found that it improved their gait, muscle strength, and quality of life.
Tai chi helps in diabetes management: Studies have reported that it lowers blood sugar, improves immune system response, reduces inflammation, increases fitness levels, and enhances general feelings of well-being in people with Type 2 diabetes.
Tai chi prevents falls: Falls are the leading cause of injury in older people. By practicing tai chi exercises, seniors can improve their balance and stamina, preventing falls. Additionally, tai chi exercises reduce the fear of falling by making older people more comfortable on their feet.