Tai Chi Improves Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
Study: Tai Chi Leads to Smoother, Steadier Movements, Longer Strides, and Fewer Falls Compared to Other Types of Exercise
“This is a very encouraging study,” says Chenchen Wang, MD, Msc, a rheumatologist and associate professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.
Wang has studied the benefits of tai chi for osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, but she was not involved in the current research.
“Most of our previous studies have measured pain, depression, and anxiety, which are subjective measures. These results are very impressive because they used objective measurements,” Wang tells WebMD.
It’s not clear exactly why tai chi may offer an edge over more conventional kinds of exercise like resistance training, but researchers say they believe it probably has something to do with the mind-body connection that’s encouraged throughout the poses.
“It’s intentional movement. So every step you take, you are aware of it. We put quite a bit of emphasis on the self-awareness of the movement,” says Fuzhong Li, PhD, senior scientist at the Oregon Research Institute, a nonprofit center for the study of human behavior in Eugene, Ore.
Additionally, Li says, tai chi has some practical advantages over other kinds of exercise.
“You don’t need any equipment. You can practice anywhere, anytime. It’s low cost. It can easily be incorporated into the rehab setting, as well,” Li says.