Tai Chi for Balance and Steadiness

We have another post this week from Dr. Phillip Griffin, Audiologist and Vestibular Specialist in the Greensboro/High Point, NC area.

Perhaps you’ve heard of a new type of exercise that is popping up everywhere at local YMCA’s, senior centers, and retirement communities. It comes from a far away land and has an exotic sounding name. Its slow graceful movements make it look like someone is dancing underwater. It’s has movements with curious and colorful names like “Golden Pheasant Stands on One Foot”, and “Wave Hands in Clouds”. That sounds a bit strange! What in the world could it be?

Welcome to the world of Tai Chi.

Tai Chi is actually an ancient martial art from China that has evolved over the centuries into a graceful slow-motion exercise that can be done by young and old. It involves moving the body gently through set of postures, a type of choreographed “dance”. There are agile stepping movements, and elegant arm movements in each posture. Movements of the arms and legs and feet are synchronized, improving body coordination. There is also an emphasis on calm breathing and relaxation of body and mind.

For those concerned about overall health and balance, Tai Chi holds special interest. Unfortunately, balance and falling problems are very common, and very harmful. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 1 in 3 seniors fall every year. A lot of research has been dedicated to findings ways to help seniors stay steady on their feet and not fall. Tai Chi has been well studied by American universities in the past 15 years, and has been shown to improve balance and reduce falling in seniors. It’s currently recommended by the CDC as one of the few treatments for balance that truly works. One thing that makes Tai Chi ideal as an exercise is the fact that anyone can do it. Even those with arthritis and sore joints and muscles will see improvements in balance (and less arthritis pain) with Tai Chi.

Tai Chi is a type of exercise that is gaining in popularity in America and around the world. It’s helpful for all ages and is proven to help balance and steadiness. It sounds exotic now, but as time goes on more and more Americans will become familiar with it, and improve their health with this
graceful and gentle exercise.

CDC Fall Prevention Activities. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, 2010. Accessed August 18th, 2011, http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/FallsPreventionActivity.html

Tai Chi for Health Institute. Paul Lam, MD. Accessed August
18th, 2011, http://www.taichiforhealthinstitute.org/

About Alan Desmond

Dr. Alan Desmond is the director of the Balance Disorders Program at Wake Forest Baptist Health Center, and holds an adjunct assistant professor faculty position at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. In 2015, he received the Presidents Award from the American Academy of Audiology.