What's the Best Exercise to Boost Balance and Prevent Falls?

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Older adults who practice the ancient Chinese martial art tai chi have a lower risk of falling than those who participate in other forms of exercise. That’s according to a U.S.-based study conducted by researchers from the Shanghai University of Sport in China and published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The researchers assessed 1,147 adults over 70 and then enrolled 670 seniors in the trial, who had impaired mobility, were at risk of falling as determined by a medical professional, and/or had experienced a fall in the previous year. The seniors participated in one of three programs: two 60-minute exercise classes weekly for 24 weeks with randomization to tai chi; a program involving balance, aerobics, strength, and flexibility activities; or stretching. After six months, 48.8 percent of study participants reported 733 falls in total.

Tai chi (also called tai ji quan) was the clear winner in reducing fall risk — 58 percent better than the stretching program and 31 percent better than the program that included a variety of activities. While the latter proved superior at improving balance and reducing the number of falls than stretching alone, the tai chi results were significantly better.

Sourced from: JAMA Internal Medicine