The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

Tai Chi Helps Prevent Falls, Aids Mental Health

Tai Chi in the street, China, May 2007

Image via Wikipedia

Here is a wonderful article that shows the benefit of Tai Chi, a slow and easy exercise program, on mental health.  I have always felt that the body needs to be moved to connect it with the emotions and mind.  Tai Chi, which is practiced regularly in China and other far eastern nations, does just that through a slow progression of poses over the course of the class.

We all know that exercise is good for us.  That is undisputed.  Mental health patients usually live sedentary lives and take medication that puts on weight.  It could only help to get up and move and to do so in a social setting just adds to the benefit.

Please read this article from MedPage Today.  While there, browse some of the other wonderful articles available at that site; maybe even leave a comment about this article.  Let me know, too, what you think of this topic, won’t you?

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By Nancy Walsh, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Published: May 16, 2011
Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco.

Doing tai chi — combining slow movements with relaxation and deep breathing — appears to help prevent falls in older people and improve their state of mind, according to recently published systematic reviews.

In four systematic reviews of trials that assessed the effects of tai chi on fall prevention, three clearly showed benefits, according to Myeong Soo Lee, PhD, of the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine in Daejeon, South Korea, and Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, of the University of Exeter in England.

And in five reviews looking at psychological health, four determined that tai chi was helpful for older patients, the researchers reported online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Action Points


    • Explain that the practice of tai chi — combining slow movements with relaxation and deep breathing — appears to be helpful for preventing falls and improving psychological health in older people.
  • Note that negative results were seen in studies of tai chi for rheumatoid arthritis and cancer, while contradictory effects were seen for cardiovascular disease and improvement of balance.

Tai chi originated from the Buddhist and Confucian precept that health is determined by the life forces yin and yang, with illness representing an imbalance in these energies.

Numerous clinical trials in this increasingly popular practice have sought to evaluate its health benefits, but conflicting results have emerged.

To help clinicians sift through the evidence, Lee and Ernst analyzed the results of 35 systematic reviews that each included at least two controlled studies published between 2002 and 2010.

Among the conditions evaluated in these trials were general health in older people, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular disease, muscle strength, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, psychological health, rheumatoid arthritis, and fall prevention.

Overall, the reviewers determined that 17 of the systematic reviews reflected minimal bias, while seven had moderate flaws and 11 had major deficiencies.

A total of 20 of the reviews concluded that tai chi might have benefits, eight drew the opposite conclusion, and seven found insufficient evidence for drawing conclusions.

Nine of the reviews were high quality, in the judgment of Lee and Ernst.

One of these high-quality reviews found positive effects for tai chi, five were negative, and no conclusions were made by the other three…[read more]

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May 17, 2011 - Posted by | Mental Health | , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

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