Falls are an important public health concern. They can result in serious injuries, enduring disabilities, drastic lifestyle changes, escalating healthcare expenses, and even death. Fall-associated healthcare costs in the United States have been estimated as high as $500 million a year. This does not even begin to assess the individual morbidity involved (disability, dependence, depression, unemployment, inactivity). Fall prevention should be of paramount concern to healthcare professionals and should be reevaluated on a regular basis.
- The Ochsner Journal
Mark Peters / pub. NHS networks
This subject has had a long and controversial history as it has been applied in broad brush strokes rather than targeting frail and pre-frail people as two significant groups. The most well known and quoted study is the Wolf study (1) which states general exercise reduce risks of falls by 10%. Specialised training reduces risks by 25%. Tai Chi reduces risks of falls by 47%(1)
The reason for writing this article is to discuss the research and my personal findings as a Tai Chi teacher working within health authorities and regular classes open to the general public. Through my company Balanced Approach, I have been presenting workshops for Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Extend Teachers, PSI’s and care workers. This training has been organised by the PCT’s and Sports Councils.
Stephanie Watson / Harvard Women's Health Watch
Compared to the pumping intensity of spin or Zumba, a tai chi class looks like it’s being performed in slow motion. Watching the gentle, graceful movements of this ancient Chinese practice, it’s hard to imagine that tai chi can burn off a single calorie or strengthen muscles. But this exercise program is far more dynamic than it looks.
“The slowness that you see from the outside can be deceptive,” says Dr. Peter Wayne, research director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. As an aerobic workout, tai chi is roughly the equivalent of a brisk walk (depending on the intensity at which you perform it). And as a resistance training routine, some studies have found it similar to more vigorous forms of weight training, says Dr. Wayne, who is also founder and director of the Tree of Life Tai Chi Center in Somerville, Massachusetts and co-author of The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi (due out next spring).