Health community sees benefits of Tai Chi for frail elderly
A new kind of Tai Chi - call it Tai Chi with a twist - is gaining attention as an effective form of exercise for frail elderly people.
The style, Tai Chi Fundamentals, combines the traditions of the Chinese practice and modern therapeutic principles. The exercise plan works well with elderly adults with a range of health problems - from arthritis to heart disease.
"It's a simplified version of Tai Chi," said Dr. Sandra Matsuda, an assistant professor of occupational therapy at the University of Missouri-Columbia, who wrote of the benefits of Tai Chi in the March issue of the Rehab Management Journal. She is one of only about 15 practitioners in the U.S. specifically certified in Tai Chi Fundamentals.
Awareness is spreading in the U.S. and other Western nations of the potential health benefits of Tai Chi, particularly for older adults who cannot perform higher-impact exercise. Tai Chi, an ancient martial art, focuses on building strength, balance and flexibility through slow, fluid movements combined with mental imagery and deep breathing.