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Tai Chi to Prevent Falls

Summary:
Our only alternative to getting older is to die young. When we do get old (and I am now 60), falls are a serious danger. A bad fall can easily lead to a permanently diminished quality of life, and to lower levels of activity that lead to other problems. The review above, “Tai Chi for the Prevention of Falls Among Older Adults: A Critical Analysis of the Evidence,” by Samuel Nyman, takes some care at synthesizing the results of many studies on the effects of Tai Chi on falls, while worrying about things such as publication bias. Samuel Nyman comes to the conclusion that doing Tai Chi reasonably seriously reduces falls to about 4/5 of what they

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Tai Chi to Prevent Falls

Our only alternative to getting older is to die young. When we do get old (and I am now 60), falls are a serious danger. A bad fall can easily lead to a permanently diminished quality of life, and to lower levels of activity that lead to other problems.

The review above, “Tai Chi for the Prevention of Falls Among Older Adults: A Critical Analysis of the Evidence,” by Samuel Nyman, takes some care at synthesizing the results of many studies on the effects of Tai Chi on falls, while worrying about things such as publication bias. Samuel Nyman comes to the conclusion that doing Tai Chi reasonably seriously reduces falls to about 4/5 of what they would otherwise be. (“Reasonably seriously” means at least an hour a week, and done standing up, rather than a watered-down “seated” Tai Chi.) Other forms of strength training and balance training may well have the same benefits for fall prevention as far as the evidence goes. But Tai Chi has other elements that are attractive. Samuel Nyman summarizes key elements of Tai Chi practice as follows:

Eight elements have been identified as follows: focused attention, imagery and visualization, enhanced integration of physiological systems, moving meditation, strength and flexibility training, more efficient breathing, social support from attending classes, and a vehicle for increased spirituality (Wayne & Fuerst, 2013).

In addition to the (often quite long) walks I take almost every day, Tai Chi (or some close substitute), along with strength training, is something I intend to do as I get even older. I easily found videos on how to do it online. I have to admit that, currently, I am simply doing one-legged knee bends with eyes open (see “Learning to Do Deep Knee Bends Balanced on One Foot”) and standing on one foot with eyes closed. At least I have down the idea that balance is important.

For annotated links to other posts on diet and health, see:

Miles Kimball
Miles Kimball is Professor of Economics and Survey Research at the University of Michigan. Politically, Miles is an independent who grew up in an apolitical family. He holds many strong opinions—open to revision in response to cogent arguments—that do not line up neatly with either the Republican or Democratic Party.

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