from research to real life – tai chi for a better brain

“As the practitioner incorporates the quality of tai chi movement into his life, he finds that he stops banging into things. The result of not falling into each step provides the opportunity to instantaneously ease back from unexpected barriers.”  (Wolfe Lowenthal)

main idea: After 40-weeks, MRIs detected increase brain volume and improved memory and cognitive function in “Tai Chi” and “Social Intervention” groups compared with “Walking” and “No Intervention” groups. We know that brain shrinkage (with age) is associated with cognitive decline and dementia, therefore this has important implications for social interactions and non-aerobic exercise programs as we age.

boomersforfitness.com (AP Photo/University of Southern Mississippi, Steve Rouse)

Research : Changes in Brain Volume and Cognition in a Randomized Controlled Trial of Exercise and Social Interaction in a Community-based Sample of Non-Demented Chinese Elders (J Alz Dis)

Real life : Tai Chi for a Better Brain (Dr. Weil’s weekly bulletin)

… now the benefits of Tai Chi for Parkinson’s have been presented for a while, especially for balance and falls

(see New England Journal of Medicine Research HERE and Real life article on Huffington Post HERE and listen to NPR podcast HERE), however, this is the first study of brain volume, which not only has implications for PD, but all other neurodegenerative diseases! It’s also interesting to see the benefits of social interactions on this study outweigh that of walking (for brain volume and memory)!

I think the important take home from this is that we need to engage in a variety of exercises (progressive aerobic training, non-aerobic, skill development, resistance) and include a social component to keep us balanced and focused as we age! much love.

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