Make Tai Chi available all over the UK to help people stay healthy and independent for longer!

A government taskforce to spearhead a strategy to make Tai Chi available all over the UK.

 

Why Tai Chi? It is a form of exercise that anyone can do anywhere. Something easy to learn and easy to do. Something that children at school can do, and all the way up the ages through adulthood including older people in care homes. A form of exercise that is relaxing and is known to particularly help with physical problems (e.g. joint pain), but also helpful in preventing health problems. Something that you can do regardless of existing health conditions.

 

Tai Chi is a great place to start getting people active. Tai Chi has been recommended for older people to meet UK guidelines for participation in physical activity (1). It is also recommended by the NHS, particularly for inactive older people (2). Tai Chi is an ancient form of Chinese mind-body exercise, where you carry out smooth and continuous body movements along with deep breathing and mental concentration (3). The exercise is similar to moderate-intensity exercise and quiet meditation (4). This form of exercise is particularly suited for people with dementia with the use of slow and repetitive movements (5).

 

My ongoing research, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, is looking into the health benefits of Tai Chi for people with dementia and their informal caregivers (6). This is important because in the absence of a cure, we need to help people with dementia to have the best quality of life they can, as well as their family members. Doing an activity they enjoy together helps them not only stay active, but gets them out the house and continuing to enjoy life. They get to attend a class once a week and are asked to practice at home between classes. People with dementia can definitely take part in the classes and learn Tai Chi.

 

You can find out more about the study here:

 

The TACIT Trial: www.bournemouth.ac.uk/tai-chi
 

 

References

  1. Department of Health, Physical Activity, Health Improvement, & Protection (2011). Start active, stay active: A report on physical activity for health from the four home countries' chief medical officers. London: Department of Health, Physical Activity, Health Improvement and Protection.
  2. NHS Choices. (2013).  A guide to tai chi. [online].  Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/guide-to-tai-chi/, accessed the 11th July 2018.
  3. Lee,  L. Y., et al. (2010). The psychosocial effect of Tai Chi on nursing home residents. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 19  (7-8), 927-38.
  4. Li, J. X., et al. (2001). Tai chi: Physiological characteristics and beneficial effects on health. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 35 (3), 148-56.
  5. Tadros, G., et al. (2013). The management of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia in residential homes: Does Tai Chi have any role for people with dementia? Dementia, 12 (2), 268-279.
  6. Nyman, S. R., & Skelton, D. A. (2017). The case for Tai Chi in the repertoire of strategies to prevent falls among older people. Perspectives in Public Health, 137(2), 85-86.

Why the contribution is important

We need to radically increase levels of physical activity and exercise across the population. The vast majority of us simply do not do enough. Previous reports suggest less than half of adults do sufficient physical activity to reap the health benefits. However, when physical activity is measured using digital devices worn on the body, evidence suggests less than 1 in 10 adults are active enough (1).  

 

The benefits of physical activity to our health and wellbeing are well-known. For example, an estimated 9% of worldwide premature mortality is caused by lack of physical activity (2). A dramatic rise in physical activity across all ages would vastly improve the nation’s health and better prepare for an ageing society.

 

This will need a multi-faceted and coordinated approach that goes beyond simply telling people to be more active (3). It will need the input from experts not only in behaviour change and front-line delivery of opportunities to be physically active. It will need input from experts in environmental design; how to make our cities and rural areas easier and more attractive to walk and take the bus rather than drive. It will need experts in how to influence cultural ideas that run counter to physical activity (e.g. “you should put your feet up when you retire”). This would take a lifecourse approach, as our experiences of physical activity early in life shape our interest in continuing physical activity later in life: you have more chance of seeing an adult playing sports if they enjoyed physical education at school. Physical activity is our best medicine for increasing our years of being healthy and independent.

 

Tai Chi will help people be more active. This will help us all stay healthy and independent for longer in later life.

 

References

  1. Department of Health, Physical Activity, Health Improvement, & Protection (2011). Start active, stay active: A report on physical activity for health from the four home countries' chief medical officers. London: Department of Health, Physical Activity, Health Improvement and Protection.
  2. Lee, I.-M., et al. (2012). Effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases worldwide: An analysis of burden of disease and life expectancy. Lancet, 380, 219-229.
  3. Nyman, S. R. (2018). A multidisciplinary approach to promoting physical activity among older people. In S. R. Nyman, A. Barker, T. Haines, K. Horton, C. B. A. Musselwhite, G. Peeters, C. R. Victor, & J. K. Wolff (Eds.). The Palgrave Handbook of Ageing and Physical Activity Promotion. London: Palgrave MacMillan (pp.1-19). DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-71291-8_1, eBook ISBN: 978-3-319-71291-8, Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-319-71290-1.

 

 

Dr Samuel Nyman

Principal Academic

Specialist within the field of fall prevention and physical activity promotion among older people and people with dementia

Department of Psychology and Ageing & Dementia Research Centre

Bournemouth University

by snyman on July 18, 2018 at 01:46PM

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