Tilopa Tai Chi Qigong Center
  “Teaching Tai Chi Classes in Minneapolis / St. Paul, Minnesota since 1977
and Maui, Hawaii since 1997"
Director: Marilyn Allysum     612-825-6824

 

Tai Chi For Seniors

A recent study presented at the American Heart Association meeting even found that just 12 weeks of Tai Chi resulted in a small but significant drop in blood pressure in older people.

JoAnna M, Staff Instructor

Tai Chi movements helped seniors improve their physical functioning.
“Researchers reported in a recent Annals of Behavioral Medicine”

 

Tai Chi movements combines balance, flexibility, aerobic,
and toning exercises through slow, graceful actions.

Each of these aspects of fitness contributes to overall health. Improved balance can minimize the risk of falling, while flexibility enables you to   reach into the top cupboard. Good leg strength makes it easier to get up from a sitting position, and strong lungs mean you can walk without getting winded.

This study was designed to determine whether a 6-month Tai Chi exercise program can improve self-reported physical functioning limitations among healthy, physically inactive older individuals. Ninety-four community residents ages 65 to 96 (M age = 72.8 years, SD = 5.1) volunteered to participate in the study. Participants were randomly assigned to either a 6-month experimental (Tai Chi) group (n = 49), which exercised twice per week for 60 min, or a wait-list control group (n = 45). A 6-item self-report physical functioning scale, assessing the extent of behavioral dysfunction caused by health problems, was used to evaluate change in physical functioning limitations as a result of Tai Chi intervention.
Results indicated that compared to the control group, participants in the Tai Chi group experienced significant improvements in all aspects of physical functioning over the course of the 6-month intervention. Overall, the experimental group had 65% improvement across all 6 functional status measures ranging from daily activities such as walking and lifting to moderate-vigorous activities such as running. It was concluded that the 6-month Tai Chi exercise program was effective for improving functional status in healthy, physically inactive older adults. A self-paced and self-controlled activity such as Tai Chi has the potential to be an effective, low-cost means of improving functional status in older persons.
Exercise made a difference in the baseline physical functioning assessment, about 60% of the volunteers reported some physical limitation in moderate-to-vigorous activities and about 25% reported difficulties with activities of daily living (eating, dressing, bathing). At the end of the study, more than half of those enrolled in the Tai Chi class who had reported functional limitations at the start of the study indicated improvement. This is consistent with other studies showing the benefits of Tai Chi for seniors -- most notably, in reducing falls. There was some improvement also noted in the control group, but much less than in the Tai Chi group.
While each of these aspects of fitness can be gained through other activities, Tai Chi is particularly well suited for older individuals because it is a non-impact exercise. In the United States, it is no longer unusual to see individuals or groups practicing their Tai Chi movements – gently rotating arms, spines and limbs and posturing themselves into various positions -- in local parks or other outdoor spaces. These motions are going on at a YMCA’s, senior centers or adult education classes. Like acupuncture and other traditional Chinese remedies, the benefits of Tai Chi are proving a useful adjunct to western medicine.

Source* An evaluation of the effects of Tai Chi exercise on physical function among older persons: a randomized controlled trial. F. Li, P. Harmer, E. McAujey,  et al., Ann Behav Med., 2001, vol. 23, pp. 139--146

Longevity Classes

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