Could Tai Chi help reduce the number of falls in pensioners?

Recent research has revealed that Tai Chi could help reduce the number of falls in pensioners by a fifth.

Oxford University conducted a study that comprised of 108 trials with over 23,000 participants, with an average age of 76 years old. The aim of the study was to determine whether Tai Chi and other exercise classes could help reduce the number of falls.

The study found that elderly people participating in fitness classes helped improve strength, balance and functional mobility.

Moreover, elderly individuals were 23 per cent less likely to fall and suffer potentially life-threatening injuries after taking part in these exercise programmes, especially Tai Chi.

Whereas, it was less clear whether exercises such as dancing and walking, which do not focus on balance, could cut the risk of falls.

Author, Professor Cathie Sherrington, said: “This evidence helps build an even stronger picture that exercise can help prevent older people having falls. It also illustrates which types of exercise can be beneficial.

“It is well known that keeping active promotes good health but this review pinpoints which types of exercise are more likely to be effective for preventing falls.”

The findings from this study could help support the NHS’s long term plan of implementing a wider expansion in social prescribing. The idea of the plan is to refer pensioners to participate in social activities such as exercise classes to boost their independence.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said: “Falls are a huge threat to older people and can be fatal in the worst cases so anything we can do to prevent them should definitely be done.

“It’s great news that the right exercise classes really work and it’s over to the NHS now to make sure every older person who could benefit from them gets the chance to do so.”

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