We may be living in an age of technological medical miracles, but some old techniques are proving to be pretty effective as well. One example is tai chi, a practice that mixes slow, deliberate movements and directed breathing. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that tai chi exercises helped people with Parkinson's disease improve their balance and prevent falls.
Parkinson's is a neurological disorder that leads to loss of muscle function and problems with movement coordination.
Researchers assigned nearly 200 male and female Parkinson's patients between the ages of 40 and 85 to six-month sessions of either tai chi, resistance training or stretching. The participants were assessed at the beginning of the study, at three months, six months and then again three months after the study ended.
They found that the Parkinson's patients did better than the others on maintaining balance, having better control of their bodies and walking. They were also less likely to fall. They maintained those benefits after the study as well.
The researchers say that tai chi has some other advantages as well: it's not expensive, doesn't require equipment and can be done pretty much anywhere with instruction.