Posts Tagged ‘Cochrane Review’

Tai Chi: One of the Best Exercises for Balance

Tai Chi may be one of the better exercises you can do to maintain balance and prevent falls, based on systematic reviews.

“The diverse, multiple active ingredients inherent in Tai Chi allow you to compensate for deficiencies in the physiological and cognitive components that underlie balance loss,” says Peter Wayne, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Director of Research, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine Division of Preventive Medicine Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Keeping your balance is a complex task, involving the co-ordination between muscles and sensors that detect balance and are part of the nervous system.

In older people many factors, such as reduced muscle strength, stiff joints, delayed reaction times, and changes in the sensory system, all add up to a reduced ability to maintain balance.

A new Cochrane Review indicates that regular exercise helps older people improve their balance and reduces their risk of falling.

The new review included 94 studies that involved a total of nearly 10,000 participants.

The following types of exercise are the most effective, according to the review:

* exercise that targeted a person’s walking, balance, and co-ordination

* strengthening exercises

* 3-dimensional exercises, including Tai Chi, dance, and yoga

* general physical activity such as walking or cycling

* computerized balance training that uses visual feedback

* exercise involving vibrating platforms

In general, the effective programs ran 3 times a week for a duration of 3 months and involved exercises that challenged people’s balance while they were standing.

Dr. Wayne explains how Tai Chi helps balance:

* It’s a weight-bearing exercise.

* It sensitizes sensory systems.

* It helps coordinate neuromuscular patterns.

* It reduces the fear of falling, which is one of the biggest predictor of falls.