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Build Muscle and Improve Balance with T'ai Chi

T'ai Chi can help older people improve balance, which can protect them from falling and breaking their bones. It is also a safe way to build muscle strength.

Older people lose coordination and are at increased risk for falling. T'ai Chi is a specific training program aimed at teaching people how to maintain balance so that they can withstand the attack of an enemy and remain on their feet. It involves slow, purposeful movements that apply the same forces on muscles that require far heavier forces with faster movements. So T'ai chi strengthens muscles with far less force on muscles and far less susceptibility to injury. Using this method an older person can get the same strengthening of muscles and balance control with slow movements that a much younger person can get using far faster movements with much greater force on muscles. The risk of injury in T'ai chi is very low, which is an advantage at any age but exceptionally important for older people who are starting a new exercise program.

T'ai Chi for Arthritis

Evaluation of the effectiveness of Tai Chi for improving balance and preventing falls in the older population - A review. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2002, Vol 50, Iss 4, pp 746-754. G Wu, Univ Vermont, Dept Phys Therapy, 305 Rowell Bldg, Burlington,VT 05405 USA

Checked 9/12/15

May 11th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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