(Natural News) Tai chi is an ancient form of martial art that is now being used for improving health, especially among older adults. One of its potential benefits is its ability to help improve balance. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine revealed that tai chi is an effective practice to improve balance, reducing the risk of falls in at-risk and frail individuals.
In the study, a team of researchers from the University of Jaen in Spain evaluated 13 controlled trials that analyzed the effectiveness of tai chi in fall prevention in adults who are frail or at risk of falling. Based on the data that the research team collected, the practice of tai chi significantly reduced the risk of falling. Additionally, the team revealed that tai chi is more effective than other measures, or no intervention, for fall prevention in at-risk populations.
With these findings, the research team concluded that tai chi is can help reduce the risk of falling for people who are frail. (Related: Tai chi better than strength training and aerobics at preventing falls among seniors.)
More reasons to try tai chi
Many studies have also looked at the other health benefits of practicing tai chi. Listed below are some of those benefits.
- Chronic pain relief: Some studies suggest that tai chi can significantly improve pain caused by certain conditions, such as osteoarthritis of the knee and fibromyalgia. In a meta-analysis published in the journal PLoS One, seven different trials showed that practicing tai chi for 12 weeks can reduce the stiffness and pain symptoms of knee osteoarthritis, as well as improve physical function. A Cochrane review of 54 studies that included more than 3,000 participants also showed that tai chi could help improve the physical function of those with knee osteoarthritis. Additionally, tai chi can also help improve sleep patterns, pain, depression, and fatigue in people with fibromyalgia, according to studies.
- Better cardiovascular health: Tai chi is good for the heart, especially for those with coronary heart disease who often feel tired and weak. Practicing tai chi regularly may help increase physical activity, promote weight loss, and improve quality of life. It can also improve blood pressure and other symptoms of hypertension.
- Enhanced mental health: Tai chi offers mental health benefits. Because it is a tranquil, fluid exercise, it has been associated with mindfulness and psychological well-being. This form of martial art is believed to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve the mood.
- Improved cognitive function: Tai chi may also improve cognitive function, especially in older adults with cognitive problems. In particular, tai chi helps boost memory and executive function, such as paying attention and carrying out complex tasks. A systematic review and meta-analysis involving more than 2,500 older adults without cognitive impairments suggested that tai chi significantly improves cognitive function.
Although tai chi is a gentle, low-impact activity and is generally considered safe, it is important to seek medical advice before starting. This particularly applies to people who are older, pregnant, or have back pain and osteoporosis. If you’re new to tai chi, it’s best to attend a class or work with an instructor to reduce your risk of injury, as tai chi focuses on proper posture and exact movements, something that is difficult to learn on your own.
You can find more studies on tai chi and its health benefits at HealingArts.news.