Effects of Extended Tai Chi Intervention on Balance and Selected Motor Functions of the Elderly
Balance ability decreases with age, which results in an increased risk of falls for people over age 65. Tai Chi exercise appears to offer potential benefits in the reduction of falls for the elderly. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of extended (6- and 12-month) Tai Chi exercise interventions on balance and selected motor functions for senior citizens. Forty-seven subjects were recruited from two local senior centers. Twenty of them (M = 71.8 years, SD = 7.1), 11 in the Tai Chi exercise group and 9 in the control group, completed the pre-, mid- and post-tests over 12 months on five selected functional performance tests: static balance, dynamic balance, choice reaction time, heel-rise strength, and ankle flexibility. The Tai Chi group was provided with a one-hour Tai Chi exercise session per week for 12 months; the control group did not participate in any exercise program. Results showed that static balance improved significantly after a 6-month Tai Chi intervention. Moreover, the Tai Chi group maintained a higher level in the test performance compared with the control group at the end of the 12-month intervention, but there was no significant difference between the two groups. Data suggested that Tai Chi exercise intervention could produce a positive influence on balance control for the elderly over a prolonged period, but not on muscle strength and ankle flexibility.
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