I don’t know. But my first thought about this study is that a statistical improvement does not necessarily mean there’s a change that could affect your health in a meaningful way.
The study included 49 men, 60 to 82.1 years of age with osteopenia or osteoporosis. About half participated in an 18-week tai chi class for 45 minute, twice a week. The other half received no training.
At the end of the program the tai chi group achieved a statistically significant increase in effectiveness of balance task performance from 80.95% to 84.45%. In the control group, no statistically significant improvement in the level of body balance was found.
The researchers concluded, “An 18-week period of tai chi exercises twice a week for 45 min is beneficial for dynamic balance. It can be important for reducing fall risk factors.”
It could be. Or maybe not. You can’t tell.
The researchers used the Computer Posturographic System PE 90 to measure the change in balance. I don’t know what that is, and Googling didn’t help. But in the absence of any difference in falls or broken bones I’m skeptical that a 3.5% improvement is important in the daily lives of these men.
An earlier study summarized here showed that tai chi in the elderly did reduce falls.
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.