Objectives: Cognitive declines are common in older people and can be a major health issue in an aging world. One type of body-mind exercises, t'ai chi, can be a possible means to help maintaining older adults' cognitive abilities, in addition to beneficial effects of physical exercises. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether t'ai chi practitioners had better attention and memory functions than older people with or without regular exercises. Methods: A cross-sectional study examining the relationship between t'ai chi practice and age-, gender-and education-similar older peoples' attention and memory functions. Forty-two (42) community-dwelling elderly subjects, aged 60 or older, recruited from t'ai chi clubs in Hong Kong formed the t'ai chi group. Another 49 elderly having regular exercise habits were recruited from community centers for inclusion in the exercise group. A nonexercise group (normal healthy control) consisting of 44 subjects were also recruited by random selection and through contacting local elderly centers. They were also screened by the Modified Barthel Index, Chinese Mini-mental Status Examination, Geriatric Depression Scale, and evaluated by attention tests (Color Trail Form A-1 and 2) and memory tests (including Rivermead Behavioral Memory Test and The Hong Kong List Learning Test). Results: The main finding was that the three groups differed in attention and memory functions, and the t'ai chi group had demonstrated better performance than the other two groups in most subtests. Conclusions: As a causal relationship cannot be assumed in the present cross-sectional study, future research is required to examine how t'ai chi can improve cognitive function using a randomized control trial as well as determining whether t'ai chi practice can lead to better health status among elderly people.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Complementary and alternative medicine