Exercises that improve balance and make your legs stronger lower your chance of falling and help you feel better and more confident. Tai Chi is a centuries-old, mind and body practice with origins in China that involves fluid, whole-body movements that gently challenge and strengthen balance, mental focus, deep breathing and relaxation.
Tai Chi has been proven to improve balance and reduce falls. In addition, research suggest that practicing Tai Chi may improve stability in older people and those with Parkinson's, reduce pain from knee osteoarthritis, help people cope with fibromyalgia and back pain, and promote quality of life and mood enhancement in people with heart failure and cancer. It also may offer psychological benefits, such as reducing anxiety.
Tai Chi is for you if you are interested in:
- Participating in low impact exercise;
- Improving your balance by strengthening muscles and improving coordination;
- Increasing your confidence and sense of tranquility;
- Reducing your fall risk; and
- Improving your overall wellness
What is it?
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that today is practiced as a graceful form of exercise. It involves a series of controlled movements that are performed in a slow manner accompanied by deep breathing. Tai Chi is one of the most effective exercises to prevent falls. There are many different forms of Tai Chi but if specific principles are incorporated, Tai Chi has been proven effective at improving balance and preventing falls. These principles include:
- Movement control. Tai Chi movements are slow, controlled, and continuous. One movement flows into the next. This approach helps strengthen muscles, calms the mind, and teaches the body to avoid sudden movements that can lead to falls.
- Weight transfer. Tai Chi movements focus on slowly transferring weight with each step. This results in improved balance, strength, coordination, and mobility.
- Integration of mind and body. The practice of Tai Chi incorporates deep breathing, relaxing of the body, and calming of the mind. This has been shown to increase your confidence and reduce your fear of falling.
Tai Chi is one of several programs offered through the Ohio Department of Aging's HEALTHY U Ohio and STEADY U Ohio initiatives to help you live "Well Beyond 60!" Learn more...
Find a Tai Chi class near you
Tai Chi is available in many counties in Ohio. Click on the shaded counties in the map or find your county in the list below for contact information. When contacting an instructor, be sure to ask about any associated costs.
If you represent an organization that would like to bring Tai Chi to your community, or are a Tai Chi instructor interested in being added to our list, please contact the Ohio Older Adult Falls Prevention Coalition at 937-642-2053.
Does it work?
Tai Chi is an evidence-based falls prevention strategy. The effects of Tai Chi on improving balance and reducing falls have been studied across the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls can be reduced by practicing Tai Chi. To be effective, the Tai Chi class should be tailored to the needs of older adults and at least 50 hours of Tai Chi should be practiced.
Is it safe?
Tai Chi appears to be a safe practice. One National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health -supported review noted that tai chi is unlikely to result in serious injury but it may be associated with minor aches and pains. Women who are pregnant should talk with their health care providers before beginning Tai Chi or any other exercise program.
National Institutes of Health - "Tai Chi and Qi Gong Show Some Beneficial Health Effects"
National Institutes of Health - "Tai Chi and Qi Gong: In Depth"