Tai Chi Found to Benefit Older Adults




Journal of Aging and Physical Activity

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Tai Chi, or Tai Chi Chaun, is a Chinese martial art that has been widely practiced throughout the world. Based on a series of postures that are combined with movements in a specific sequence, Tai Chi Chaun provides low intensity exercise with a variety of benefits that equal those of more rigorous exercise programs such as working out with an ergometer.1 While developed as a martial art, a means of self-defense, the movements of Tai Chi Chaun are fluid and slowly deliberate.

One of the main components of Tai Chi Chaun is that of controlled breathing. By combining the breathing with the sequenced postures and movements, this martial art embodies elements common in many other martial art forms but with low impact and low intensity making it very suitable for any population of any age.

Recently, a study was published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity that looked at benefits gained from practicing Tai Chi Chaun in the older adult population. The authors of this study wanted to determine if practicing Tai Chi Chaun would become part of a self-motivating factor in an exercise program. To determine this, they recruited 94 participants with an average age of 72.8 who were healthy adults with a low-active lifestyle. The participants were then randomly assigned to either the experimental (Tai Chi) group, or to a control group. During the six months course of the study, the participants were assessed at baseline, 12 weeks and 24 weeks. The authors were looking for indications that the Tai Chi Chaun group was more motivated to attend the exercise classes. At the end of the six months, the Tai Chi group showed greater levels of self-motivation, which resulted in higher attendance in the exercise classes. The authors concluded that “The findings suggest that self-efficacy can be enhanced through Tai Chi and that the changes in self-efficacy are likely to improve exercise ad-herence.”2


1. Brown DD, et al. Cardiovascular and ventilatory responses during formalized T'ai Chi Chuan exercise. Research Quarterly for Exercise & Sport. 1989;60:246-250.
2. Li Fuzhong, et al. Tai Chi Enhances Self-Efficacy and Exercise Behavior in Older Adults. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity. Apr 2001;9(2).