Above 50 and ailing? Try Tai Chi

Toronto, Sep 20 (IANS) Chinese exercise Tai Chi could improve physical capacity among older adults with certain long term conditions such as breast cancer, heart failure, osteoarthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), new research has found.

Tai Chi consists of slow, gentle, flowing movements that aim to boost muscle power, balance, and posture. It also includes mindfulness, relaxation and breath control.

“The results demonstrated a favourable effect or tendency of Tai Chi to improve physical performance and showed that this type of exercise could be performed by individuals with different chronic conditions, including COPD, heart failure and osteoarthritis,” the study said.

The researchers from University of Toronto and University of British Columbia in Canada wanted to find out how effective Tai Chi was in long term conditions that are common among older adults.

They examined relevant studies published up to 2014, on the use of Tai Chi in people with cancer, osteoarthritis, heart failure, and COPD.

The studies involved over 1,500 participants.

The average age of participants ranged from the mid 50s to the early 70s, while the average length of the Tai Chi training programme was 12 weeks, with most sessions lasting an hour.

Tai Chi training was usually offered two to three times weekly.

The results showed that Tai Chi was associated with trends, or definite improvement, in physical capacity and muscle strength in most or all four long term conditions.

This included improvements in the six minute walking test, muscle strength, as measured by bending and stretching the knees, the time it takes to get up, and move known as the TUG test and quality of life.

The study was published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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