Exercise is the key to keeping fit and to keep moving. Worthy of note is the growing popularity of traditional tai chi that was originally developed for self-defense. It has evolved into a graceful form being used in treating a number of human ailments, and supported by a number of associations. Tai chi has been recommended to older people for its various physical and psychological benefits, also stress reduction and a variety of other health conditions. Here Sonya Collins, WebMD.com, reflects on adding tai chi to help older adults avoid dangerous falls:
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“Oct. 2, 2018 — Duane Partain was 71 years old when he took a couple of spills in his flower garden in Eugene, OR. He has vertigo and sometimes feels lightheaded and wobbly, but he hadn’t fallen before. So, after he went crashing into the bushes, he stopped spending as much time in the garden, worried he’d take a tumble again.
When older adults fall, fear of falling again often keeps them from getting back to their usual activities. The lack of exercise then takes its toll on balance and strength, which only makes a person more vulnerable to another, more serious spill. Poor vision, slower reflexes, and medications or conditions that make you dizzy also make falls more likely.
More than one in four adults age 65 or older fall every year, and falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in that age group, the CDC says. Once you fall, your risk of going down again doubles. When a bone breaks — particularly a hip — falls can harm your quality of life, make you more disabled, and raise your risk of death. More than 95% of broken hips are the result of a fall. When an adult between the ages of 65 and 84 breaks a hip, their risk of dying in the next 2 years triples.
“I’ve had friends, acquaintances, and neighbors who’ve fallen, and when they broke something, that started a serious decline in their activities. I wanted to avoid that as long as possible,” Partain said. In fact, most falls can be avoided. But while many people try to get rid of things that can make them fall in their homes, they don’t consider the risks within their own bodies.
“Picking up throw rugs and installing grab-bars is a great start, but if you don’t have a balance impairment, you can catch yourself when you trip over a rug,” says Lori Schrodt, PhD, a physical therapist at Western Carolina University’s Balance and Fall Prevention Clinic. “It’s that environmental hazard combined with some other risk factor, such as balance impairment, that is the real recipe for disaster.”
But how do you restore lost balance — and confidence — after age 65? Studies show it is possible.
Moving for Better Balance: Tai Chi and Other Proven Programs
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) recognizes 14 programs for their proven record to lessen falls. One of the most effective is Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance, a course that researchers adapted from traditional tai chi (short for tai ji quan or tai chi chuan). Tai chi, an ancient Chinese practice, includes slow, focused, fluid movement along with deep breathing.
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Part of the benefit of many fall prevention programs is the exercise they provide. But not all exercise is equal. In a study of 670 adults age 70 or older who had fallen at least once in the last year, tai chi adapted for fall prevention was more effective than a generic exercise program or a stretching routine. Adults who practiced tai chi 2 hours per week for 6 months were 31% less likely than those in the exercise group to fall again and 58% less likely to fall than those in the stretching group.
“[Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance] starts to reactivate the neuromuscular pathways that underpin your ability to control your body as it falls through space,” says Peter Harmer, PhD, a professor of exercise science at Willamette University in Salem, OR. Harmer and program creator Fuzhong Li have collaborated for nearly 3 decades to develop and refine Moving for Better Balance. They are co-authors of the study of 670 older adults.
Duane Partain was one of them. He responded to an ad recruiting people for the study at Oregon Research Institute 3 years ago, and he’s been practicing tai chi ever since. “It helps prevent falls because your body seems to become more aware,” Partain says. “The fall doesn’t catch you unawares. It doesn’t just come out of the blue. You can tell what is going on, and you can be proactive to stop it.”
That’s because, Harmer says, the class provides exercises that mimic balance challenges people face in everyday life.”
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Read More … Article Source: https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/news/20181002/adding-tai-chi-helps-seniors-avoid-dangerous-falls
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