Improve the Quality of Life with Aging with Tai Chi
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“Over the past few years, tai chi has been at the top of the list of “alternative therapies” with benefits that . . . helps senior improve their balance, mood and joint health.” – IlluminAge
The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This markedly reduces the quality of life in aging individuals. There is some hope for age related decline, however, as there is evidence that it can be slowed. There are some indications that physical and mental exercise can reduce the rate of decline. For example, contemplative practices such as meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi or qigong have all been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging. The research findings have been accumulating. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned about the effectiveness of Tai Chi for reducing the decline in quality of life during aging.
In today’s Research News article “Effectiveness of Tai chi exercise on overall quality of life and its physical and psychological components among older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7485323/ ) Wang and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research studies of the effectiveness of Tai Chi practice in reducing the age related decline in quality of life. They identified 10 published randomized controlled trials with a total of 1170 participants who were aged 50 years and older.
They report that the published research found that Tai Chi practice significantly improved the quality of life in older and elderly individuals. This improvement was significant particularly for physical component of quality of life. But was not significant for the psychological component. This is not surprising as Tai Chi practice has been shown to improve strength and balance and reduce the likelihood of falls in older individuals. These benefits should improve their physical well being and reduce the likelihood of injury.
It is a bit surprising that the psychological component of quality of life was not improved. Tai Chi is often practiced in social groups while the elderly are often isolated and have high levels of loneliness. So, it would be expected that the social interactions occurring with Tai Chi practice would improve their psychological well-being. This needs to be further researched.
Tai Chi is an ancient mindfulness practices involving slow prescribed movements. It is gentle and completely safe, can be used with the healthy and sickly, is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. This makes Tai Chi an almost ideal practice for the improvement of quality of life in aging individuals.
So, improve the quality of life with aging with Tai Chi.
”Tai Chi promotes optimal aging and well-being by providing mild-to-moderate cardiorespiratory exercise, muscular strengthening, balance and postural control along with many mental and social benefits.” – Kristine Hallisy
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch
Wang, D., Wang, P., Lan, K., Zhang, Y., & Pan, Y. (2020). Effectiveness of Tai chi exercise on overall quality of life and its physical and psychological components among older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Brazilian journal of medical and biological research = Revista brasileira de pesquisas medicas e biologicas, 53(10), e10196. https://doi.org/10.1590/1414-431X202010196
With the aging of the world’s population, the quality of life of older adults is becoming more important. There are many studies on the use of Tai chi exercise, a popular form of mind-body exercise practiced by older adults. However, the effectiveness of Tai chi exercise on the quality of life of older adults is unclear. For this systematic review and meta-analysis, six databases (PubMed, CENTRAL, CINAHL, EMBASE, Scopus, CNKI) were searched in English and Chinese languages to screen for relevant randomized controlled trials (RCT), and their risk of bias was assessed by two independent reviewers. The results of quality of life, physical component, and psychological component among older adults were meta-analyzed using RevMan5.3 software. The search retrieved 2577 records. After screening, a total of 10 RCTs were included in this evaluation, with a total of 1170 participants. The meta-analysis showed that compared with the control group, Tai chi exercise had a significant impact on the overall quality of life (SMD=1.23; 95%CI: 0.56–1.98; P<0.0001), and on the physical component of quality of life (MD=5.90; 95%CI: 1.05–10.75; P=0.02), but no significant impact on the psychological component of quality of life. This study had high heterogeneity. The results of this study suggest the potential use of Tai chi exercise as an activity for increased quality of life in older adults. Future research may enhance experimental rigor and explore the rationale behind Tai chi exercise.