One of the biggest troubles of growing old is the loss of balance. As a senior citizen, being unsteady while walking and living in fear of falling can be debilitating. Fortunately, Tai Chi practices can help seniors deal with body balance issues.
Tai Chi and balance
According to estimates, regular practice of Tai Chi by seniors helps in reducing the number of falls by about 45 percent. This is possible because the practice improves balance in the body. The flexibility of the body, leg strength, reflexes, the range of motion, etc. all tend to degenerate with age. But with Tai Chi, they can be improved to a good extent so that seniors get the strength needed to stay upright and remain in balance.
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Tai Chi also helps in dealing with a major emotional issue — the fear of falling. Once a senior falls due to a lack of balance, they are likely to be more afraid of walking or doing any other physical activity out of a fear that they might fall again. But practicing it makes the person firm on their feet, helping to neutralize such fears.
In a study published by the The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers looked into how Tai Chi would help patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Such people usually are prone to reduced functional abilities and are at high risk of falling. One hundred ninety-five patients participated in the experiment in which they were split into three groups. Each group performed either Tai Chi, resistance training, or stretching for 60 minutes two times a week for 24 weeks.
The team found that the group that did the Tai Chi exercises performed better than the other two groups when it came to things like maximum excursion, directional control, functional reach, etc. “Tai chi training appears to reduce balance impairments in patients with mild-to-moderate Parkinson’s disease, with additional benefits of improved functional capacity and reduced falls,” the study concludes.
In addition to Tai Chi, the practice of Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) can also be beneficial to seniors. Falun Gong is said to help a person cultivate the universal energy that enables them to take good care of both their body and mind. And for seniors who have trouble dealing with their fear of falling, Falun Gong offers stability to both the inner mind and the physical body through 5 sets of exercises along with a complete cultivation system.
Other benefits of Tai Chi for seniors
While regaining body balance is a major benefit of Tai Chi, the practice also helps in sleeping. Some senior citizens have difficulty sleeping properly, either because of physical discomforts or mental stress. With the practice of Tai Chi, the body and the mind are both calmed down, ensuring that the person gets the best sleep possible.
In fact, a study conducted on people aged 60 to 92 years of age found that those who practiced Tai Chi were able to fall asleep 18 minutes earlier than those who never did. Plus, the practitioners also slept about 48 minutes longer. The quality of sleep also improves with Tai Chi, with people having fewer interruptions. And good sleep ensures that the body and mind are perfectly ready to meet the challenges of the next day.
Meanwhile, senior Falun Gong practitioners focus on cultivating their inner energies that enable them to be more robust in their daily life. Long-term practitioners might also discover that their medical conditions are miraculously diminished thanks to Falun Gong. In fact, there have been reports of recovery from diseases like bone tissue degeneration and leukemia in the practitioner community.
Starting Tai Chi is not a difficult task. “You can start Tai Chi at most levels of health, and you can ramp up your activities to be appropriate to your level of fitness and function. Look for classes in your community, and then visit some classes that are convenient for you,” Harvard Health Publishing quotes Dr. Peter Wayne.
So check for Tai Chi training services in your area and sign up right away in case you are a senior citizen struggling with maintaining body balance. And if you can practice together with your friends, then all the better.
Compared to the rest, Falun Gong classes are free of cost and are usually taught by volunteer practitioners in your local parks. So go check them out and avail yourself of the numerous benefits of this energy practice.