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Tai Chi Can Improve Postural Stability among Healthy Older Adults

January 21, 2017 - A new Chinese study, appeared in the journal Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine, examined the effects of Tai Chi on postural control when upright standing was perturbed by upper limb movement.

Three groups, TC, Brisk walk (BW), and sedentary (SE), of thirty-six participants aged from 65 to 75 years were recruited from local community centers. Participants performed static balance task (quiet standing for 30?s with eyes open and closed) and fitting task (two different reaching distances X three different opening sizes to fit objects through). During the tasks, the Center of Pressure (COP) data was recorded while standing on the force plate. Criteria measures calculated from COP data were the maximum displacement in anterior-posterior (AP) and medial-lateral (ML) directions, the 95% confidence ellipse area (95% area), and the mean velocity.

No significant effect was observed in the static balance task. For fitting tasks, the group effect was observed in all directions on COP 95% area and the TC group showed reduced area. The tests of subject contrasts showed significant trends for reaching different distances and fitting different openings conditions in all directions, the 95% area, and the mean velocity.

The study concluded that, compared to the other two groups, long-term Tai Chi exercise helps in reducing the effects of upper body perturbation as measured by posture sway.

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