Falls are a leading cause of accidental injury and death among seniors, according to American Family Physician [link?]. The source elaborated that among those over 75 who die from an accident, in a vast majority of cases - around 70 percent of the time - falls are to blame. Common forms of injury associated with falls include concussion and hip fractures. The later form of injury can be especially debilitating, with physical therapy needed in many cases. Seniors are more at risk for falls because problems such as balance impairment and cognitive decline, both of which are risks factors for falls, are more common among this age group.
A research project published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society has found that practicing tai chi can help older adults lower their risk of experiencing falls. Read on to learn more.
What is Tai Chi?
Originating in China, tai chi is a form of martial arts that combines light exercise and mindfulness techniques. The practice is noncompetitive. Participants typically perform a range of motions, with each movement flowing into the next. The practice has a range of physical and mental health benefits, including stress reduction, muscle strengthening and improved flexibility. There are a range of ways to practice tai chi, with different styles to choose from.
Analysis shows reduced fall risk
The research is underpinned by an analysis of 10 separate medical trials, all of which looked at the risk of falls in association with the practice of tai chi. Taking the data from the trials, researchers determined that the rate of falls among those practicing tai chi lowered by 43 percent. The findings pertained to individuals studied for less than a year.
For those participants examined for longer periods of time, those who practiced tai chi experienced a reduced fall rate around 13 percent lower. The results also indicated tai chi may help reduce the number of falls that culminate in serious injury, although study authors stressed more investigation is needed in this area.