An organization that provides in-home senior care, like Homewatch CareGivers Northshore must understand and recognize the importance of taking care of ones’ mind and body, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Exercises that engage the mind and body improve memory and other measures of cognitive functions. Tai Chi beats stretching and conventional exercise and can also help reduce the fall risk percentage rate for the elderly. Who wouldn’t rather try Tai Chi, Pilates, or a class or two of ballroom dancing instead of your daily stretching exercises while still getting credit from your doctor/family members for your weekly routine? In December 2018, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found that older adults who participate in mind-body exercise can show improvements in several aspects of brain functions, such as memory, verbal fluency, and learning.
Researchers looked at the cognitive performance in healthy older adults and those with mild cognitive impairment. They compared the two groups on their overall productivity and the amount of time necessary to promote cognitive performance. The study found that mind-body exercises, especially Tai Chi and dance are “beneficial for improving global cognition, cognitive flexibility, working memory, verbal fluency, and learning in cognitively intact or impaired older adults,” says Chunzhi Tang. Moderate intensity is recommended for older adults, which was defined as 60 to 120 minutes. Any form of exercise is good, but for those that are looking to change their routine, we now have more to choose from based on research that will incorporate the mind and body.
Peter Wayne, PhD from Harvard Medical School talks about an important study that adds existing evidence to support that Tai Chi is an effective exercise for the mind and body, but also for preventing falls, including in older adults with a history of falling. The study had almost 700 participants who had fallen at least once in the past 12 months and who were considered at risk for falls. Participants were randomly broken up into 3 different groups and tracked the number of falls and how they fell for 6 months. The Tai Chi groups number of falls was significantly lower than the other two groups. Tai Chi reported 152 falls, MME 218, while the group that incorporated stretching exercises only reported 363 falls. “The benefits observed over two forms of conventional exercise suggest that unique aspects of Tai Chi training, perhaps its emphasis on cognitive processes relaxation, mental focus, and task shifting, afford its unique benefits,” says Peter Wayne, PhD.