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Tai Chi vs. Swimming on Motor Control for the Elderly
Oct 28, 2010 - Several researchers from Chang Gung University of Taiwan conducted a study to test if the practice of Tai Chi, in comparison with swimming, provides a distinctive benefit of balance in the elderly. The 32 participants in Tai Chi group and the 20 ones in the swimming group practiced regular Tai Chi and swimming respectively for at least 3 years before the recruitment. Thirty-four healthy and active elderly volunteers were also recruited as the control group.

To evaluate balance, the researchers used SMART Balance Master that yields balance parameters including maximal stability, center-of-pressure velocity, and percentage ankle strategy obtained under six different balance conditions. They evaluated eye-hand coordination by measuring the movement time required to accurately point from one target to the next.

In the most challenging balance conditions, the Tai Chi group performed significantly better than the swimming and control groups. In eye-hand coordination tasks, both the Tai Chi and swimming groups yielded significantly shorter movement time compared with the control group; however, no significant difference was observed between them.

The researchers concluded that both Tai Chi and swimming improve eye-hand coordination in the elderly. However, Tai Chi yields a better training effect on dynamic balance.

This study is published in the September 2010 issue of the journal Archives of gerontology and geriatrics.




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