Tai chi is a type of exercise that guides the body through gentle, flowing poses. According to some studies, Tai chi may help relieve some of the worst physical problems of Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease involves the destruction of brain cells that make a chemical called dopamine. Nerve cells depend on dopamine to send messages that guide muscle movement. As the cells die, movements may become shaky, stiff, and unbalanced. Some walking or moving problems may occur.
In a study, people with Parkinson’s disease who had been taking tai chi for six months were able to lean farther forward or backward without stumbling or falling compared to those who did not. They were also better able to smoothly direct their movements. And they were able to take longer strides. Like other resistance training, tai chi helped people walk more swiftly, get up from a chair more quickly, and increased leg strength.
Tai chi may also reduce the chances of a fall. Perhaps the most impressive benefit of tai chi, however, was related to falls. Falls are common symptom for people with Parkinson’s disease, and they can cause serious injuries, including fractures and concussions. According to some datas, falls are the main cause of hospitalizations in Parkinson’s disease patients. In the same study, people with Parkinson’s disease who took tai chi were reported half the number of falls compared to those who did not, and two-thirds fewer falls.
It seems that tai chi might be an effective therapy for improving Parkinson’s disease patients’ ability to walk, move steadily, and balance.
It’s still unknown why tai chi may offer an edge for Parkinson’s disease over more conventional kinds of exercise like resistance training. However, according to some researchers, it probably has something to do with the mind-body connection that’s encouraged throughout the poses.