While tai chi offers many benefits, researchers from the University of Michigan concluded that in older adults with at least mild balance impairment, balance programs that increase step length and speed are more effective at improving mobility and balance.
But this is not the final word on the subject.
The study included 162 adults at least 65 years old who participated in one of two fall-prevention training options.
Combined balance and stepping training (CBST) classes where participants moved their upper bodies while bouncing and catching a ball. The movements became more complex over time.
Tai chi classes emphasized awareness of body alignment, relaxation and distribution of weight, and 12 sequences from the tai chi Yang Short Form.
At the end of 10 weeks the CBST group did better in a range of tests that measured balance, stepping, and timed up and go.
A previous study showing long-term positive results with balance training was summarized here. A previous study showing long-term positive results with tai chi was summarized here.
Now, we need to compare the incidence of falls and fractures with balance vs. tai chi over the long term.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.