T'ai Chi Your Way To a Healthier Brain!
Current research helps us understand how our brain changes as we reach later stages of life. The volume and weight of our brain declines with age at a rate of about 5% per decade after age 40, with gradual declines in our memory and cognitive processing. Age can also place us at risk of developing dementia, a term used to describe cognitive functioning and memory disorders. There are many studies available that show high levels of education, physical activity and social engagement are great lifestyle habits that are protective against cognitive decline.
The Australian Government’s guidelines on Physical Activity recommend at least 2 resistance-based training sessions twice per week, in addition to 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week for 18-64 year olds and 30 minutes most days for older Australians. Older Australians (classified as over 65 in the guidelines) are recommended to participate in a mix of resistance based strengthening exercises, balance exercises and flexibility exercises to maintain physical and mental wellbeing.
T'ai Chi is a recommended activity for its known health benefits in reducing physical and mental stress, supporting cardiovascular health and a great way to improve balance and flexibility. Recent studies support T'ai Chi’s role in improving brain function in multiple areas, including cognition, memory recall and more.
What Does the Evidence Say?
A systematic review of studies available on T'ai Chi and Cognitive function found that T'ai Chi had overall significant benefits in all domains of cognitive functioning. In one study, T'ai Chi was associated with increase in brain volume in addition to improved memory and recall, compared with a control of people who did not perform the intervention who experienced normal decline in brain volume and cognition between 60-70 years of age.
Where can I Try T'ai Chi?
There are many different forms of T'ai Chi that are available, with some programs specifically tailored to conditions, such as T'ai Chi for Arthritis or T'ai Chi for Back Pain.
Newcastle is lucky to have many tai chi programs in our local area which can be found with a simple google search, or by looking at the T'ai Chi Health Institute’s list of registered instructors for specific programs for you. The T'ai Chi Institute's website can be found here.
Newcastle Aquatic Physiotherapy currently offers Water T'ai Chi every Tuesday as part of our water-based classes program, which is based on our physiotherapists Sarah and Jason’s training in the T'ai Chi for Arthritis Program delivered by the T'ai Chi Health Institute.
Water T'ai Chi is a great way to achieve the benefits of T'ai Chi with the additional benefits of the clinical hydrotherapy environment. Hydrotherapy assists in additional blood flow, muscle relaxation and buoyancy to reduce excess load on the joints. Our classes typically run for 30 minutes long and requires nil equipment or previous experience. If you are new to our aqua classes, you can check our information here.
Are you interested in giving T'ai Chi a try? If you would like to sign up or find out more about our Water Tai Chi class, get in touch with us in person or over the phone on (02) 4955 0143 to speak to our friendly team today.