12-month Tai Chi training in the elderly: its effect on health fitness

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Purpose:The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of Tai Chi Chuan(TCC) on health fitness in older individuals.Methods:Thirty-eight community-dwelling persons aged 58 to 70 yr completed this study. The TCC group included 9 men and 11 women; the control group included 9 men and 9 women. The TCC group practiced TCC for 11.2 ± 1.4 months, with the attendance of 4.6 ± 1.3 times·wk-1. Each session included 20 min of warm-up, 24 min of TCC practice, and 10 min of cooldown. The exercise intensity was 52-63% of the heart rate range. Cardiorespiratory function, strength, flexibility, and percent of body fat were evaluated before and at the end of this study.Results:The male TCC group showed 16.1% increase in ˙VO2max (P< 0.01), 11° increase in thoracic/lumbar flexibility (P < 0.05), 18.1% increase in muscle strength of knee extensor (P < 0.01), and 15.4% increase of knee flexor (P < 0.05). The female TCC group showed 21.3% increase in ˙VO2max (P < 0.01), 8.8° increase in flexibility (P < 0.05), 20.3% increase in muscle strength of knee extensor (P < 0.05), and 15.9% increase of knee flexor (P < 0.05). The control group showed no significant change in these variables.Conclusions:The results indicate that a 12-month Tai Chi Chuan program is effective for improving health fitness of the elderly.

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