Tai chi has a ton of benefits for anyone who practices it, but this gentle exercise is an especially good addition to any senior nutrition and fitness routine. It can improve balance, tone muscles, and provide a low-impact form of cardio exercise.
But did you know it can also fight neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease?
Tai Chi Builds Brain Power
Tai chi is a form of physical exercise, but it's also a form of moving meditation. Practitioners must learn a variety of different movements, then learn how to put them together into different combinations to create forms.
All of this learning is great for exercising your brain, it turns out. A 40-week study in Shanghai examined seniors who practiced tai chi three times a week against seniors in a control group who did not do tai chi. It found that while the control group showed brain shrinkage typical in seniors, the tai chi group not only showed no shrinkage, but their brain volume actually increased.
Tai Chi Helps Improve Balance and Motor Control
Parkinson's patients will be especially interested in two of these benefits: improved balance and better motor control. A 2008 study of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients who practiced tai chi found that the gentle exercise helped reduce the number of falls they suffered, and improved their motor function.
It also found that some of the Parkinson's patients saw a reduction in their tremors.
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