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Program Better Than Tai Chi to Improve Walking in Elderly

Combined balance and step training program improves balance, stepping in elderly with difficulty walking

THURSDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- A combined balance and step training program is superior to tai chi in improving balance and stepping in elderly individuals who have difficulty balancing and walking, according to a report in the December issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Neil B. Alexander, M.D., and colleagues from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor examined static balance and stepping in 213 elderly individuals (at least 65 years old) who had difficulty balancing and walking. They underwent a 10-week program of either tai chi or combined balance and step training.

The researchers found that participants in the combined balance and step training program had a 5 percent to 10 percent improvement in stepping and greater improvements in static balance compared to those participating in tai chi.

"Of the two training programs, in which variants of each program have been proven to reduce falls, combined balance and step training results in modest improvements in balance, stepping, and functional mobility versus tai chi over a 10-week period," Alexander and colleagues conclude.

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