Tai chi improves balance and reduces falls. A 2017 systematic review and meta-analysis of 10 studies and 3000 patients concluded that persons in the tai chi experimental group experienced a significantly lower chance of falling at least once and a lower rate of falls altogether than persons in the control group.
B. Cognitive Function in Elders
There are 21 studies (including 12 randomized controlled trials) of tai chi in elders, examining the impact on cognitive function. A meta-analysis demonstrated a large effect size (0.9) when comparing tai chi with nonintervention controls and a moderate effect size (0.5) when comparing tai chi with exercise controls. Randomized controlled trials of cognitively impaired adults (mild cognitive impairment and dementia) showed smaller (0.3) but statistically significant effect size when tai chi was compared with other active interventions. A 2016 randomized controlled trial in older adults with mild cognitive impairment showed both a significantly reduced fall risk and significantly improved cognitive function.
A meta-analysis of 15 randomized controlled trials and 6 nonrandomized controlled trials concluded that there were beneficial effects of tai chi in improving motor function, depression, balance, and functional mobility in patients with Parkinson disease. A three-arm randomized controlled trial of 195 patients with Parkinson disease found significant reduction in falls in the tai chi group compared to the stretching group.
A 2017 meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials found evidence that Tai chi significantly improved 6-minute walking distance, left ventricular ejection fraction, serum BNP, and quality of life.
et al. Tai Chi exercise for patients with chronic heart failure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2017 Oct;96(10):706–16.
et al. Systematic review and meta-analysis: Tai Chi for preventing falls in older adults. BMJ Open. 2017 Feb 6;7(2):e013661.
et al. Tai Chi and postural stability in patients with Parkinson's disease. N Engl J Med. 2012 Feb 9;366(6):511–9.
et al. Tai Chi for risk of falls. A meta-analysis. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2017 Sep;65(9):2037–43.
et al. The impact of Tai Chi and Qigong mind-body exercises on motor and non-motor function and quality of life in Parkinson's disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2017 Aug;41:3–13.
et al. Effects of Tai Chi on cognition and fall risk in older adults with mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2017 Apr;65(4):721–7.
et al. Effect of tai chi on cognitive performance in older adults: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2014 Jan;62(1):25–39.
et al. What do we really know about the safety of tai chi? A systematic review of adverse event reports in randomized trials. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 Dec;95(12):2470–83.