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Tai Chi Reduces Falling Risk in Healthy Older Adults

After 16 weeks, participants had a nearly 50 percent lower risk of multiple falls than controls

THURSDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- In relatively healthy older adults, a weekly tai chi class may significantly reduce the risk of multiple falls, according to a report published in the August issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Chris Rissel, Ph.D., of the University of Sydney in Australia, and colleagues randomly assigned 702 healthy, community-dwelling older adults (mean age 69) to either a 16-week program consisting of one hour of tai chi classes per week or a wait-list control group.

After 16 weeks, the researchers found that 19 percent of subjects fell at least once and that 3 percent fell at least twice, rates that increased to 22 percent and 6 percent, respectively, after 24 weeks. Although the researchers found no group differences in the percentage who had one or more falls, they found that the tai chi group had an almost 50 percent reduced risk of having two or more falls after 16 and 24 weeks compared to the control group.

"Most participants rated their health as good, very good or excellent, and nearly 50 percent reported that they were able to walk for at least an hour," the authors write. "Two-thirds had no limitations in instrumental activities of daily living. These results should only be generalized to younger groups of relatively healthy older people."

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