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Exercise & Fitness for Senior Citizens

Tai Chi Enlarges Brains, Improves Memory, Thinking in Elderly Chinese

First trial showing lesser aerobic exercise, with stimulating discussion increased brain volume, improved results on memory, thinking tests - see video below

See video below in storyJune 19, 2012 - Scientists from the University of South Florida in Tampa and Fudan University in Shanghai found increases in brain volume and improvements on tests of memory and thinking in Chinese seniors who practiced Tai Chi three times a week, reports an article published today in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Findings were based on an 8-month randomized controlled trial comparing those who practiced Tai Chi to a group who received no intervention.

The same trial showed increases in brain volume and more limited cognitive improvements in a group that participated in lively discussions three times per week over the same time period.

 

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Patients with Chronic Heart Failure Discover New Quality of Life with Tai Chi Exercise

Those with chronic systolic heart failure have been historically considered too frail to exercise - see link to video in caption about founder

March 25, 2011

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Previous trials have shown increases in brain volume in people who participated in aerobic exercise, and in one of these trials, an improvement in memory was seen.

This, however, was the first trial to show that a less aerobic form of exercise, Tai Chi, as well as stimulating discussion led to similar increases in brain volume and improvements on psychological tests of memory and thinking.

The group that did not participate in the interventions showed brain shrinkage over the same time period, consistent with what generally has been observed for persons in their 60s and 70s.

Numerous studies have shown that dementia and the syndrome of gradual cognitive deterioration that precedes it is associated with increasing shrinkage of the brain as nerve cells and their connections are gradually lost.

"The ability to reverse this trend with physical exercise and increased mental activity implies that it may be possible to delay the onset of dementia in older persons through interventions that have many physical and mental health benefits," said lead author Dr. James Mortimer, professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida College of Public Health.

Research suggests that aerobic exercise is associated with increased production of brain growth factors. It remains to be determined whether forms of exercise like Tai Chi that include an important mental exercise component could lead to similar changes in the production of these factors.

"If this is shown, then it would provide strong support to the concept of "use it or lose it" and encourage seniors to stay actively involved both intellectually and physically," Dr. Mortimer said.

One question raised by the research is whether sustained physical and mental exercise can contribute to the prevention of Alzheimer's disease, the most common dementing illness.

"Epidemiologic studies have shown repeatedly that individuals who engage in more physical exercise or are more socially active have a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease," Dr. Mortimer said.

"The current findings suggest that this may be a result of growth and preservation of critical regions of the brain affected by this illness."


Links to archived reports on Tai Chi and Seniors

Seniors Citizens with Osteoarthritis Find Tai Chi Exercise Relieves Pan, Helps Movement

Over 4 million in U.S. over age 60 diagnosed with knee OA; CDC says half of elderly may develop symptoms of OA in at least one knee by age 85

Oct. 29, 2009


Chinese Martial Art of Tai Chi Chih Helps Seniors Sleep Better, Fight Shingles Virus

UCLA researcher continues to find benefits for senior citizens in 20-movement exercise.. video

June 25, 2008


Practicing Tai Chi Provides Protection from Shingles for Older People

UCLA study finds significant increase in immune system

March 23, 2007


Tai Chi Reduces Falls in Older People: New Study Confirms Earlier Reports

June 27, 2005 A new study confirms what has been reported by other researchers since 1996 Tai Chi, a martial arts form that enhances balance and body awareness through slow, graceful and precise body movements, can improve balance, build strength and reduce the risk of falls in the elderly.


Tai Chi good way for elderly people to return to exercise

The low-impact Chinese exercise, Tai Chi, can help older people regain some of the physical functioning that they may have lost to inactivity, according to a new study. click to story 5/2/2001

 

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