- By Deb Balzer
Mayo Clinic Minute: Tai chi keeps seniors on their feet
Exercise is important for everyday health, but one exercise in particular helps prevent falls and broken bones in seniors, according to recently published research. Dr. Robert Wermers, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist, says tai chi is a low-impact balance exercise that can reduce falls and prevent life-impairing bone fractures in seniors.
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In this tai chi class, people may be equal, but health risks are not. Dr. Wermers says, as we age, we lose muscle mass and have a higher risk for falling.
“You break a lot of bones by just falling," he says. "And, so, anything you can do to help with balance can help, as well."
Dr. Wermers says any type of nonimpact balance exercises two or three times a week is beneficial.
"Only one though has actually been shown to prevent falls, and it’s tai chi," he says.
Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art form focused on gentle movements. Along with preventing falls in seniors, it’s also been shown to promote balance, control and flexibility – allowing older adults to enjoy movement who many not otherwise get exercise.