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Improving the quality of life for elderly with dementia

As we age, it's natural to experience a decline in cognitive abilities. Memory loss, difficulty with decision-making, and other problems can arise. Unfortunately, dementia is a common result of this cognitive decline. However, there may be a way to help ward off dementia: Tai Chi.

Tai Chi can be a gentle form of exercise that involves slow, flowing movements that are easy on the joints and muscles (NB there are also Tai Chi practices which are fast and punchy). Tai Chi is often thought of as "meditation in motion" because of its calming effect on the mind and body. But Tai Chi is not just a relaxing form of exercise; it also has significant cognitive benefits.

A recent study published in JAMA Network Open looked at the cognitive benefits of Tai Chi in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition that can lead to dementia. The study involved 328 men and women aged 60 and older with Type 2 diabetes and MCI. The participants were divided into three groups: one group learned Tai Chi under the guidance of a health professional for an hour three times a week for 24 weeks, another group participated in a medically supervised fitness walking program, and the third group carried out their usual routines.

After 36 weeks, those in the Tai Chi group showed the most significant improvement in cognitive skills, though those who participated in the walking program also saw some brain benefits. Those in the control group did not show improvements on cognitive tests. Tai Chi also had physical benefits, with participants in the Tai Chi group having fewer falls overall than those in the walking and control groups.

So, how does Tai Chi help with cognitive function? There are several possible explanations. Tai Chi (as a non combat exercise) is a moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, similar to brisk walking, and aerobic exercise is known to improve blood flow to the brain. Other studies have shown that Tai Chi may strengthen the hippocampus and other areas of the brain critical for memory and cognitive function.

Tai Chi also requires learning new movements and remembering specific sequences, which may strengthen new connections in the brain. The meditative and relaxation training aspects of Tai Chi may also lessen anxiety, stress, and depression, which can compromise brain health. Finally, in strengthening muscles, Tai Chi may also raise levels of chemicals in the brain that boost the growth of new brain cells and brain cell connections.

If you're interested in trying Tai Chi to help maintain your cognitive function and overall health, consider joining us for a private Tai Chi class. In our private class, you will work directly with our Tai Chi Master Joseph, who can guide you through the movements and help you develop a personalized practice that meets your unique needs. Whether you're looking to learn traditional Tai Chi in its most authentic forms, build strength and flexibility, improve your balance or reduce stress, a private Tai Chi class can help you achieve your goals.

Tai Chi as a low-impact exercise can be practiced by people of all ages and fitness level. It's easy to learn and can be done anywhere, making it a convenient option for those with busy schedules. Plus, with the cognitive and physical benefits of Tai Chi, it's an excellent investment in your overall health and well-being. With regular practice, you will experience the many benefits of Tai Chi and enjoy a healthier, happier life.

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