Tai chi (also written as T’ai Chi, Taiji, Tai Chi Chuan, etc.): an ancient Chinese exercise system (originating 2,000 years ago as a martial arts strategy) that uses gentle, slow, deliberate, meditative body movements (and carefully prescribed stances/positions) to achieve mental and bodily relaxation. One of the most popular forms of exercise in the world, it was originally practiced as 108 complex, linked movements – but in current practice the two most popular versions use 18 and 37 movements. Often described as “meditation in motion.”

Research Spotlight

The databases often return hundreds of medical studies for a single wellness approach. This section summarizes a sampling of five studies – providing just a taste of the available research. These Spotlights were not selected because they are the most favorable or the most recent, but to provide you an introduction to the more extensive research you’ll uncover searching the four databases found in the “Research” section of this site.

  • Tai Chi Proven to Reduce Risk of Falls in Elderly 
    A large, 2019 meta-review of 108 randomized controlled trials (23,000 participants) from Cochrane found that exercise that requires standing up and not sitting is a very good way to reduce falls in the elderly. The researchers found high-quality evidence that exercise reduces the rate of falls by 23 percent, with tai chi cutting falls by 19 percent. 
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  • Practicing Tai Chi Reduced Falls in Elderly People by 43%
    A new meta-review of ten randomized controlled trials (University of Jaén, Spain, 2017) found that tai chi had a significant impact on preventing falls in older people. Practicing tai chi reduced falls by 43% in those followed for less than a year and by 13% in those followed longer. 
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  • Tai Chi Helps Enhance Cognitive Function in Older Adults 
    A 2014 NIH-funded meta-review conducted by the University of York, analyzing 20 studies involving 1,200+ people, found that a tai chi program enhanced cognitive function in older adults, with particularly significant impact on executive functioning in people without significant cognitive impairment. Researchers concluded “tai chi may be an attractive option for people interested in integrated long-term strategies for healthy aging.”
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  • Tai Chi An Effective Strategy for Reducing Falls and Fractures in Older People 
    A methodologically strict 2014 Cochrane review analyzed 15 randomized controlled trials (totaling 79,193 participants), to establish which fall prevention interventions are most effective for older people. Researchers concluded tai chi effectively reduced risk of falls and fractures, although not necessarily the rate of falls.
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  • Tai Chi Reduces Blood Pressure, Fall Risk, Depression and Anxiety in Older Adults
    A National Institute for Health Research review of 35 randomized controlled trials (3,799 participants) concluded tai chi and qigong help older adults improve physical function, along with reducing blood pressure, fall risk, depression and anxiety.
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