With aging comes loss of range of motion, loss of balance, loss of strength and decreased bone density. These natural processes can lead to an increase in sedentary lifestyle and increased risk for falls. Falls in the elderly are one of the most common causes for injury that lead to hospitalization and costly medical bills. For many, these falls require surgery, decreased mobility, increased monitoring and rehabilitation. Exercise and increased activity are the most effective methods to decrease fall risk. However there can be many barriers to starting a more active lifestyle. There is no need to start training for that marathon, but there are exercises that can be easily accessible and affordable.
Low impact exercises such as Tai Chi are effective to help develop balance, strengthen muscles and increase range of motion. They are highly accessible with classes in most major cities, or even online. It is an exercise that is highly modifiable. This can allow for a person, at any stage of their mobility to personalize their activity to best suit their needs. Studies have shown that Tai Chi has been shown to lower fall risk as well as decreasing the incidence of falls. In a study of over 3,000 participants they found that fall risk was reduced by 20 percent while there was also a decrease in falls by 31 percent. In another study it was found that when participants increased Tai Chi from one day a week to three days fall risk dropped by 64 percent.
Several other benefits come along with having a regular Tai Chi practice. It can improve cognition to help memory and help with confidence in physical movement. Mood is also commonly impacted in aging communities, and going to a class regularly can help boost endorphins and increase a sense of community. All of these factors combined will increase overall quality of life.