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Tai Chi May Prevent Falls and Improve Mental Health

Last Updated: May 20, 2011.

Tai chi may help fall prevention and improve psychological health but has been shown not to be effective in the symptomatic treatment of cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study published online May 16 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

FRIDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- Tai chi may help fall prevention and improve psychological health but has been shown not to be effective in the symptomatic treatment of cancer and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), according to a study published online May 16 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Myeong Soo Lee, Ph.D., of the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine in Daejeon, and Edzard Ernst, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, assessed published systematic reviews (SRs) of tai chi for any improvement of medical conditions or clinical symptoms. Data were extracted from 35 SRs pertaining to conditions including cancer, ageing, Parkinson's disease, musculoskeletal pain, osteoarthritis, RA, muscle strength and flexibility, aerobic capacity, cardiovascular disease and risk factors, resting blood pressure, osteoporosis or bone mineral density, type 2 diabetes, psychological health, fall prevention and improving balance, or any chronic conditions.

The investigators found that, in several cases, SR conclusions were contradictory. There was evidence to suggest that tai chi is effective for fall prevention and improving psychological health. Tai chi also has a positive effect on the general health of older people. However, tai chi was not found to be effective for the treatment of symptoms of cancer and RA.

"Many SRs of tai chi have recently been published; however, the evidence is convincingly positive only for fall prevention and for improvement of psychological health," the authors write.

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