"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Study results: Tai Chi strengthens memory and protects against dementia

November 6, 2023 – Older individuals who take tai chi classes performed higher on memory tests, especially once they accomplished a more demanding type of exercise, a study published within the study says Annals of Internal Medicine.

Around 300 people of their mid-70s took part within the study. They all accomplished the Montreal Cognitive Assessment with a mean rating of 25. NPR reported. A rating of 26-30 is taken into account normal and a rating of 18-25 means they don't have dementia but do have memory problems.

Participants who practiced a simplified type of Tai Chi called Tai Ji Quan twice weekly for six months improved their scores by 1.5 points.

“If you can keep going [tai chi] If you exercise regularly two or three days a week, it will take more years before you slip into dementia,” said lead author Dr. Elizabeth Eckstrom of Oregon Health and Science University told NPR.

Participants who practiced a form called Cognitively Enhanced Tai Ji Quan improved their scores by about 3 points, NPR reported. In this form, challenges were added, such as asking participants to spell a word forward and backward while performing the movements.

“We just gave you six extra years of cognitive function,” Eckstrom said. “That is loads.”

“In community-dwelling older adults with (mild cognitive impairment), cognitively enriched Tai Ji Quan therapy was superior to standard Tai Ji Quan and stretching exercises in improving global cognition and reducing dual-task gait impairment, “with the results lasting even after 48 weeks.” The study concluded.

Previous studies have shown that tai chi, a gentle exercise involving slow and precise movements, improves a person's balance and reduces the risk of falls. According to studies, it can also relieve pain in people with lower back pain, fibromyalgia, and knee osteoarthritis National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.