Tai chi may help prevent falls in elderly

Practising tai chi one to three times per week may help reduce the number of falls in older adults — a primary cause of traumatic death in the population, a study has showed.

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese practice focused on flexibility and whole body coordination that promotes harmonised motion in space.

The study revealed high-quality evidence that Tai chi significantly reduced the rate of falls by 43 per cent compared with other interventions at short-term follow-up (less than 12 months) and by 13 per cent at long-term follow-up (more than 12 months).

Regarding injurious falls, there was some evidence that tai chi reduced risk by 50 per cent over the short term and by 28 per cent over the long term.

“Tai chi practice may be recommended to prevent falls in at-risk adults and older adults. The findings offer a simple and holistic way to prevent injuries,” said Rafael Lomas-Vega, from the University of Jaen in Spain.

Tai chi has been previously proved to be an effective exercise to improve balance control and flexibility in older individuals, suggesting its efficacy in preventing falls.

For the study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the team identified 10 randomised controlled trials analysing the effect of tai chi versus other treatments (such as physical therapy and low intensity exercise) on risk of falls in at-risk and older adults.

The length of the interventions ranged from 12 to 26 weeks.