Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese form of conditioning exercise derived from martial arts and rooted in eastern philosophy and Chinese Medicine. Based on the inter-relatedness of mind, body and spirit this form of exercise focuses on producing an inner calmness which is thought to have both physical and psychological therapeutic value. This article provides a brief overview of selected current evidence examining the relationship between Tai Chi and physical, neurocognitive and psychosocial outcomes in older people. This is an emerging and growing area of research and improvements have often been reported in health functioning, physical and emotional health, reducing falls, fear of falling and risk of falls, and possibly enhancing cardiovascular functioning in older adults although the effects on bone density, cognitive and immunological functioning are less clear. Results overall are inconsistent and health improvements have not been evident in all studies. Tai Chi is becoming increasingly popular in practice, and more recent evidence is emerging which is based on experimental and longitudinal designs, although many of the proposed benefits of Tai Chi are yet to be validated in large, randomised controlled trials.
Keywords: Tai chi, older people, physical and psychological well-being, exercise interventions, Exercise, review, physical activity, ageing, adults, health behaviour, falls, bone density, cardiovascular, fitness