"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Protect your bones with Tai Chi.

This ancient exercise, which consists of a series of fluid movements, can improve your balance and show you how to avoid falls.

Tai Chi is a type of gentle exercise that experts say may also help improve your mood, lower your stress levels and keep your heart healthy. It may profit your bones.

According to the CDC, one in 4 adults over age 65 will fall, and of those falls, one in five will end in a broken bone or head injury. “Research has found that people who practice tai chi see a 20% to 40% reduction in their risk of falling after less than six months,” says Wen. For example, a study published in 2017 Journal of the American Geriatrics Society It found that older adults who participated in a single to a few hour-long tai chi sessions per week for 26 weeks reduced their risk of falling by 43 percent and halved their probability of injuring themselves consequently of a fall.

Understanding Tai Chi

Tai chi, often called meditation in motion, is an ancient Chinese martial art that consists of a series of slow, flowing movements that promote each well-being and rest. Although often considered an activity for older adults, it could be done by people of all ages. It can also be a great exercise for kids.

“I've heard colleagues describe tai chi as a one-stop-shopping, multimodal therapy,” Wayne says. “Tai chi has a lot of different benefits, and it's gentle. It's quite safe. It can also be a confidence-building gateway for people who don't exercise to expand into new forms of exercise.”

Wen says tai chi appears to be protective against falls since it addresses multiple risk aspects, not only one. Specifically, it really works to counteract the entire following age-related changes:

Muscle weakness. As people age, they lose strength, which makes them less stable and more more likely to fall. The weight-bearing nature of Tai Chi helps strengthen leg muscles. It also works on improving flexibility, especially within the ankles, knees and hips, where it is required for good balance.

Sensory deficiency. Many aspects can reduce sensation in body parts, and so they change into more common with age. These include medical conditions similar to peripheral neuropathy, a form of nerve damage that usually causes weakness, tingling and numbness within the hands and feet. Numbness in the underside of the feet (what doctors call lack of plantar sensation) could make it difficult to take care of balance. “There are several studies that show tai chi improves plant sensation,” says Wen. This renewed sense can show you how to tell if you happen to're leaning too far forward or too far back and show you how to make adjustments so that you don't lose your balance.

Slow response time. Research shows that folks who do tai chi repeatedly can improve their response time. In one experiment, when people walked on a treadmill, they experienced a small shift under their feet (while wearing a harness to forestall falls). People who did tai chi had higher muscle response times and were less more likely to lose their balance from a simulated slip than those that didn't do tai chi, Wen says. This effect is comparable to how trained baseball players reflexively raise their hands to catch a ball whether it is thrown their way. For example, if someone who repeatedly does tai chi steps on an uneven curb, she could also be less more likely to panic and fall because she reflexively knows the best way to use her body to take care of her balance. How to vary weight

Loss of focus. Another advantage of tai chi is that it could show you how to learn to give attention to the sensations in your body. Wayne says researchers have found that folks sometimes fall because they get distracted. This effect is shown in experiments when persons are asked to face on one foot after which step back in multiples of seven or 3. People who're asked to perform these calculations while balancing typically lose their balance much faster than those that stand without the performance. A mental task, says Wayne. The same can occur with regular distractions across the house, or if you happen to're anxious or apprehensive about something. Tai chi seems to assist people focus mentally and shift their attention more easily between tasks. This helps protect them from distractions that disrupt the balance. “It's teaching you to be aware of multiple things at once,” Wayne says.

Increased fear. Tai Chi may also help people overcome their fear of falling—a risk factor for future falls. When you experience a fall, chances are you'll be very afraid of it happening again. In an effort to forestall this, you possibly can unconsciously change the best way you walk: move tentatively, hold your breath, stiffen your shoulders, and change into less aware of your surroundings. All of this unfortunately makes it more — not less — likely that you just'll fall again, Wayne says. Tai Chi encourages movement that helps you recognize and reduce these “guard” patterns and improves your ease of movement.

Bone constructing ability

In addition to protecting your bones by stopping them from collapsing, it's likely that tai chi may help strengthen your bones. Some research has found that it could prevent a few of the bone loss that happens with age. During menopause, many ladies experience a drastic decrease in bone density on account of a decrease in the quantity of the hormone estrogen circulating within the body. This lack of bone mass leads to thinning of the bones, called osteopenia, and, if it continues, eventually makes your bones vulnerable to breaking and breaking, a condition called osteoporosis. .

It is feasible that tai chi may match to cut back the speed of bone loss since it is a weight-bearing exercise, which stimulates bone growth. “The osteoporosis data on tai chi are nowhere near as clear as the balance data, but women with osteopenia who do tai chi have seen some modest changes in bone density,” says Wen. are “The latest reviews are promising, but the evidence is still too limited to draw any firm conclusions on efficacy.”

Try Tai Chi.

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