Benefits for older folks

Some researchers are looking at the beneficial effects Taiji in an older population, where mobility and balance are of concern. 

A few study examples:

STUDY 1: Taijiquan: An Ancient Wisdom on Exercise and Health Promotion. Lan C.; Lai J-S.; Chen S-Y

Objective: to compare the effects of a short style of Taiji versus brisk walking training programme on aerobic capacity, heart rate variability, strength, flexibility, balance, psychological status and quality of life in elderly women.

Conclusion: a short style of Taiji was found to be an effective way to improve many fitness measures in elderly women over a 3-month period. Taiji was also found to be significantly better than brisk walking in enhancing certain measures of fitness including lower extremity strength, balance and flexibility.

STUDY 2: Reducing frailty and falls in older persons: an investigation of Taiji and computerized balance training. Atlanta FICSIT Group.  Frailty and Injuries: Cooperative Studies of Intervention Techniques. Wolf SL, Barnhart HX, Kutner NG, McNeely E, Coogler C, Xu T, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Objective: To evaluate the effects of two exercise approaches, Taiji and computerized balance training, on specified primary outcomes (biomedical, functional, and psychosocial indicators of frailty) and secondary outcomes (occurrence of falls).

Conclusion: Fear of falling responses and intrusiveness responses were reduced after the Taiji intervention compared with the control group (P = .046 and P = .058, respectively).  After adjusting for fall risk factors, Taiji was found to reduce the risk of multiple falls by 47.5%.

STUDY 3: Taiji and Fall Reductions in Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Fuzhong Li, Peter Harmer, K. John Fisher, Edward McAuley, Nigel Chaumeton, Elizabeth Eckstrom and Nicole L. Wilson

Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of a 6-month Taiji intervention for decreasing the number of falls and the risk for falling in older persons.

Conclusions: A three-times-per-week, 6-month Taiji program is effective in decreasing the number of falls, the risk for falling, and the fear of falling, and it improves functional balance and physical performance in physically inactive persons aged 70 years or older.

STUDY 4: Effects of Taiji on Joint Proprioception and Stability Limits in Elderly Subjects. Tsang, W. W. N., and C. W. Y. Hui-Chan.

Objective: To examine whether elderly Taiji practitioners have developed better knee joint proprioception and standing balance control than control subjects.

Results: Taiji practitioners were found to have better knee joint proprioceptive acuity, in that they made less absolute angle error in passive knee joint repositioning. Moreover, they could lean further without losing stability and showed better control of their leaning trajectory.

STUDY 5: Two-year trends in cardiorespiratory function among older Taijiquan practitioners and sedentary subjects. Lai JS, Lan C, Wong MK, Teng SH.

Objective: To evaluate the training effects of Taijiquan, on the maintenance of cardiorespiratory function in older individuals.

Conclusion: The data substantiate that practicing Taijiquan regularly may delay the decline of cardiorespiratory function in older individuals. In addition, Taijiquan may be prescribed as a suitable aerobic exercise for older adults.

STUDY 6: Effect of Taijiquan Training on Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Dyslipidemic Patients. Ching Lan, Ta-Chen Su, Ssu-Yuan Chen, and Jin-Shin Lai.

Objective: To evaluate the effect of Taijiquan training on coronary heart disease risk factors in patients with dyslipidemia.

Conclusions: After training, the Taijiquan group showed an increase in VO2 max from 25.2 ± 4.2 to 27.4 ± 4.1 mL · kg−1 · min−1;  (indiacting better breathing patterns) while the usual-care group displayed a significant decrease. The Taijiquan group also showed a reduction in blood pressure, triglyceride, total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, plasma insulin, homeostasis model assessment index, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. The usual-care group showed no significant improvement in these cardiovascular risk factors. A 12-month Taijiquan training program significantly improves aerobic capacity and coronary heart disease risk factors in patients with dyslipidemia.