Harvard Women's Health Watch

Research We're Watching: Tai chi prevents falls after a stroke

After a stroke, movement and balance become more difficult. That's why people who've had a stroke fall seven times more often than healthy adults. A study presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in February found that tai chi, a form of Chinese martial art that combines movement and deep breathing, can reduce falls in stroke survivors.

The study enrolled 89 people who'd had a stroke—nearly half of them women—and randomly assigned them to one of three groups: usual care, a senior-targeted fitness program, or a one-hour tai chi class three times a week.

During the 12-week study, there were only five falls in the tai chi group, compared with 15 falls in the usual care group and 14 falls in the senior exercise group. Even if you haven't had a stroke, research finds that tai chi can help improve your balance. And, because it's gentle on your joints, tai chi is an ideal exercise program for women of all ages and fitness levels.

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