Effect of 4- and 8-wk Intensive Tai Chi Training on Balance Control in the Elderly

Wai Nam Tsang, Christina W.Y. Hui-Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

129 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: The objective of this study was to examine whether 4 and/or 8 wk of intensive Tai Chi practice could improve balance control in the healthy elderly subjects. Methods: Forty-nine community-dwelling elderly subjects (aged 69.1 ± SD 5.8 yr) voluntarily participated in an intervention program of either supervised Tai Chi or general education for 1.5 h, 6 × wk -1 for 8 wk. Two balance tests were administered using computerized dynamic posturography before, at 4 and 8 wk during training, and at 4 wk after training ended: 1) the sensory organization test measured subjects' abilities to use somatosensory, visual, and vestibular information to control their body sway during stance under six sensory conditions; and 2) the limits of stability test measured subjects' abilities to voluntarily weight shift to eight spatial positions within their base of support. These outcome measures were compared between the two intervention groups, and with those of experienced Tai Chi practitioners having means of 7.2 and 10.1 yr of practice from two previous studies. Results: Statistical analysis demonstrated that, after 4 and 8 wk of intensive Tai Chi training, the elderly subjects achieved significantly better 1) vestibular ratio in the sensory organization test (P = 0.006) and 2) directional control of their leaning trajectory in the limits of stability test (P = 0.018), when compared with those of the control group. These improvements were maintained even at follow-up 4 wk afterward. Furthermore, the improved balance performance from week 4 on was comparable to that of experienced Tai Chi practitioners. Conclusions: The above findings indicated that even 4 wk of intensive Tai Chi training are sufficient to improve balance control in the elderly subjects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)648-657
Number of pages10
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Volume36
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2004

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Exercise
  • Falls
  • Intervention
  • Postural stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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