As we age, balance becomes more of a challenge and falls become a serious threat to our aging, fragile bodies. Falls are a leading cause of mortality among older adults ages 65 and older. With population models predicting steep increases in the 65 and older population, the need to address these falls and the strain they place on our health care system is vital. The implementation of mainstream fall-prevention programs into senior communities could be an important first step.
Many studies have shown that the regular practice of tai chi significantly improves balance and is an
effective means of preventing falls in seniors. A study published in the July 2008 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, “Transition of an Effective Tai Chi Intervention into a Community- Based Falls-Prevention Program,” evaluated the success rate when offering a tai chi program at community-based centers.
Researchers evaluated the Tai Chi – Moving for Better Balance program, an evidence-based falls-prevention program specifically developed for use with community centers. The 12-week study included the participation of 140 seniors (60 years and older) in 6 community centers for twice-weekly, one-hour classes.
Using various measures, researchers found significant improvement in each participant’s balance and strength levels. Additionally, tai chi helps reduce blood pressure and is a very effective way to dramatically reduce stress and anxiety.
In the Pittsburgh area I recommend Stan and Patty Swartz as tai chi teachers. Stan has been teaching tai chi for close to 40 years. Get more info at swartz.com