(HealthDay)—Tai chi is more effective than conventional exercise at preventing falls among high-risk, older adults, according to a study published online Sept. 10 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Fuzhong Li, Ph.D., from the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene, and colleagues randomized 670 community-dwelling adults ≥70 years who had fallen in the preceding year or had impaired mobility to one of three exercise interventions. Participants were randomized to either two 60-minute weekly classes of Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance (TJQMBB) for 24 weeks; multimodal exercise (MME) integrating balance, aerobics, strength, and flexibility activities; or stretching exercises.
The researchers found that over the study period there were 152 falls (85 individuals) in the TJQMBB group, 218 (112 individuals) in the MME group, and 363 (127 individuals) in the stretching exercise group. In the TJQMBB group and the MME group, the incidence rate ratios (IRRs) were significantly lower at six months (IRRs, 0.42 [P < 0.001] and 0.60 [P = 0.001], respectively) versus the stretching group. For the TJQMBB group, falls were reduced by 31 percent compared with the MME group (IRR, 0.69; P = 0.01).
"Among community-dwelling older adults at high risk for falls, a therapeutically tailored tai ji quan balance training intervention was more effective than conventional exercise approaches for reducing the incidence of falls," the authors write.
One author has financial ties to TJQMBB licensing.
Explore further: Tai chi: an ancient art may work best to prevent falls in old age