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Pensioners cut risk of falling by almost a fifth if they take up Tai Chi, Oxford University study finds

 

Pensioners cut risk of falling by almost a fifth if they take up Tai Chi, Oxford University study finds

Pensioners can cut the risk of falls by a fifth by practicising Tai Chi and other exercise programmes, research suggests.

Pensioners can cut the risk of falls by a fifth by practicising Tai Chi and other exercise programmes, research suggests.

A study involving Oxford University found that elderly people enrolled in fitness classes to improve their strength were far less likely to end up suffering potentially deadly injuries. 

The research, which examined 108 trials, with 23,407 participants, found that classes which aim to improve balance and functional exercise cut the risk of falls by 23 per cent. 

The average age of those in the study was 76 years old, with three quarters of participants female. 

The trials involved pensioners living independently at home as well as those in retirement villages, or in sheltered accommodation.

The review found that exercise programmes carried out in group classes or done at home prescribed by a physiotherapist were effective. Exercises were mostly done while standing as this better enhances balance and the ability to do daily activities such as standing up from a low chair or climbing stairs.  

On average, those taking part in all exercise programmes had 23 per cent fewer falls than those who did not, while Tai Chi was found to reduce the rate of falls by 19 per cent.

Experts said it was less clear whether exercises like dancing and walking, which do not focus on balance, could cut the risk of falls. 

The Cochrane Review was carried out by Oxford University and Sydney University. 

Author, Professor Cathie Sherrington from The University of Sydney, Institute for Musculoskeletal Health said: “This evidence helps build an even stronger picture that exercise can help prevent older people having falls. It also illustrates which types of exercise can be beneficial. It is well known that keeping active promotes good health but this review pinpoints which types of exercise are more likely to be effective for preventing falls.”