To Prevent Falls, Improve Your Balance with Tai Chi

By Mary Murrell

Balance is the key to reducing the chances of falls and fractures. According to a recently published book, The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi, about 30 percent of people retirement age and up will experience a fall. Many will have physical injuries and some of them quite serious.

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese practice based on slow, gentle, small movements. It is beautiful to watch and fun to learn. It is also deceptively effective in strengthening the body while focusing the mind. Dr. Peter Wayne, a research director at Harvard, points out Tai Chi provides an aerobic workout equivalent to a brisk walk. It addresses a number of issues including bone strength, joint stability and emotional well being.

Research has shown Tai Chi is especially effective in improving balance and reducing the fear of falling. Dr. Wayne points out, “Ironically, a fear of falling is one of the biggest predictors of a fall.” By learning and practicing Tai Chi, people become firmer on their feet, more aware of their surrounding environment and more confident.

Another important aspect of Tai Chi is the movements are low impact. This means it is possible for people across age groups and levels of fitness to learn and practice Tai Chi. You can start out at your current condition, whatever it is, and gradually move up.

Tai Chi expert Lydia Wong lives in San Miguel and gives instruction specifically targeted to improve balance. She introduces simple mind and movement exercises based on Tai Chi and Qigong, a form of Chinese yoga, to develop better flexibility and strength.

Lydia described her approach as, “Anyone can do the exercises and have fun at the same time. My goal is for students to work at a level that’s comfortable for them and to gradually improve. I want to see smiles!” For more information visit or contact Lydia at


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