Functional Benefits of Tai Chi in Senior Housing Facilities
August 15, 2014 -
Researchers from Harvard Medical School
and Taiwan National Central University collaborated in a study to determine the
effects of Tai Chi training
on functional performance and walking with and without the addition of the
performance of a cognitive task, in older adults living in supportive housing
They used secondary data analysis comparing
a single-blind, randomized controlled trial of Tai Chi training with an attention-matched
educational control intervention with crossover to Tai Chi.
Sixty-six men and women living in 2 supportive housing facilities entered the
study, and 57 aged 80 to 94 completed all study procedures.
Interventions consisted of two 1-hour-long
instructor-led group sessions per week for 12 weeks. Tai Chi training consisted of movements based upon
the Yang-style short form. Educational sessions consisted of lectures and
discussions of age-related health topics.
Subjects were tested for physical function
(Short Physical Performance Battery, SPPB), balance (Berg Balance Scale, BBS),
mobility (timed up-and-go, TUG), and walking speed under normal and cognitive
After the experiment, the Tai Chi group exhibited greater improvement in SPPB
scores than the control group. Tai Chi also
increased normal and dual-task walking speed yet did not affect BBS or TUG after
accounting for multiple comparisons. The dual-task cost (percentage change) to
walking speed was unaffected. After the crossover Tai Chi intervention, the control group improved
performance in the SPPB, BBS, and TUG, and increased walking speed under normal
and dual-task conditions.
The researchers concluded that Tai Chi training may be a safe and effective therapy
to help improve physical function and dual-task walking in very old adults
living in supportive housing facilities.
This study is published in the
August 2014 issue of Journal of the
American Geriatrics Society.