This evidence-based gentle exercise program, proven effective for fall prevention, was developed by Dr. Paul Lam, a family physician in Sydney (Australia) and world leader in the field of tai chi for health improvement as founder of the Tai Chi for Health Institute (TCHI).
On February 15, 2013 Margaret Kaniewski, a Public Health Advisor with the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control of CDC, wrote to Dr Paul Lam: “…Attached is a CDC guideline being promoted for Tai Chi as an exercise form to prevent falls among older adults. We are promoting your tai chi programs since you have established manuals and instructor trainings nationwide. I wanted to let you know we are sharing this with our partners…” This is a proactive approach and recognition of Dr Lam’s Tai Chi for Arthritis program by the world’s most authoritative government body on disease and prevention.
CDC recommends the Tai Chi for Arthritis program which is exactly the same as Tai Chi for Arthritis for Fall Prevention except the later has additional emphasis on fall prevention. Both programs are evidenced based to effective at preventing falls. In another word, both programs are the same except the Tai Chi for Arthritis for Fall Prevention has a little bonus.
Falls and Tai Chi
There are many studies on measures to prevent falls. A recent review of 111 randomised trialsinvolving over 55,000 subjects singled out tai chi and individually prescribed exercise programs to be effective. There remain skeptics who see tai chi as too gentle an exercise to have such significant effects. True, tai chi movements appear to be gentle and graceful, but like the force beneath a seemingly calmly flowing river, tai chi movements contain much power and internal strength. What is fascinating is that the fear of falling often results in more falls; hence, confidence in “not falling” will help to reduce falls. With regular practice, tai chi improves balance by strengthening muscles and co-ordination; at the same time, it strengthens the mind, thereby improving calmness and confidence in not falling. Thus, both physically and mentally, tai chi is an extremely effective exercise for fall prevention. A great bonus, at the same time, tai chi also improves almost all aspects of health!
Intended Target Population
- The primary focus is on community-dwelling older adults and people with a history of falls, balance disorders, leg muscle weakness, abnormal gait or walking difficulty.
- The program is able to accommodate people with a mild level of mobility difficulty (e.g., people who are occasional cane users), and can be modified for most health conditions.
Tai Chi for Arthritis for Fall Prevention Program
The program focuses on improving balance and physical performance with Tai Chi classes designed for older adults in community settings.
It includes 21 Tai Chi forms that emphasize slow deliberate movements, meditation, and deep breathing.
This Tai Chi program is delivered by certified and experienced Tai Chi for Health instructors who use a progressive stepwise teaching method that simplifies and enhances the student’s ability to learn.
Program Requirements: Tai Chi class conducted as a full 60-minute session twice per week for 25 consecutive weeks. As per the CDC’s recommendation for balance training benefits, the program delivery goal is for each participant to log-in 50 hours of tai chi practice.
Each practice session incorporated musical accompaniment and each 60-minute session includes:
- A 5- to 10-minute warm-up period
- Practice of Tai Chi movements/forms
- A 5- to 10-minute cool-down period
Practicing at home is encouraged for more benefits.
For more information visit Tai Chi for Health Institute