Benefits of tai chi and how it can decrease the risk of falls

Posted on: 8/12/2021

Tai chi was originally developed as a form of self-defence. Now it’s a well-known form of low-impact exercise that uses gentle, flowing movements accompanied by deep breathing.

It is sometimes referred to as “meditation in motion”, as you place your attention on the movement of your body.

Tai chi strengthens both the mind and the body, making it a great exercise for falls prevention. So, here is why you should consider trying tai chi to reduce the risk of falls…

The benefits of tai chi

Despite being a slow and gentle form of exercise that doesn’t get you out of breath, there are still many benefits of tai chi.

It addresses the key elements of fitness, such as balance, muscle strength, flexibility and aerobic conditioning. In fact, here are the most common benefits that tai chi is believed to have:

  • Reduction in stress, depression and anxiety
  • Improvement in flexibility and agility
  • Improvement of heart health
  • Reduction in joint pain
  • Better quality sleep
  • Improvement in physical and mental wellbeing

Tai chi for falls prevention

Tai chi can help with the prevention of falls as it helps to improve a person’s strength and balance, whilst putting minimal stress on muscles and joints. This makes it an ideal exercise for older adults to do, who are more at risk of falls.

In addition, tai chi may help to prevent or overcome a fear of falling, as it also strengthens the mind. This promotes calmness and helps to boost confidence, therefore helping to reduce any anxiety around falling.

How to get started with tai chi

If you are at risk of falls, and particularly if you also have any other medical conditions, it’s best to speak to your GP before starting.

After you’ve been given the go-ahead, here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Search for local tai chi classes. Often, local gyms will run tai chi sessions, but there may also be independent instructors who offer classes, too.
  • Speak to the instructor. Once you have identified the class (or classes) you would like to attend, get in touch with the instructor and ask them any questions you have. This is a great way to get an understanding of what the session will be like before you go and will put your mind at ease if you do have any worries. It’s also worth mentioning why you are attending, so that the instructor is aware. Again, this is very important if you are at risk of falls.
  • Observe a class. Perhaps, before you get involved in a class, you could simply attend and observe so that you know what to expect. Ask the instructor about this when you speak to them. Alternatively, you could check out YouTube for some example videos of classes.
  • Dress comfortably. Don’t wear anything that will restrict your movement. Instead, opt for loose-fitting close and sturdy footwear that is lightweight, non-slip and comfortable. You can buy footwear specifically for tai chi, but this is something to consider a little further down the line.

The more you do it, the more confident you will become, so you can even begin to exercise yourself at home.

As well as tai chi, it’s also beneficial to undertake a range of strength and balance exercises to help reduce the risk of falls. Check out our article with the top 11 exercises to reduce the risk of falls.