Starting Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, Introduction to Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention will be offered at the King Senior Center. The class will meet at 2 p.m. and will start with the beginning lessons. This introductory class will last for eight weeks. After that the class will continue to meet and build on the movements learned. For more information about this program or other activities, please call the King Senior Center at 336 983-0751.
According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three adults over the age of 65 fall each year. Treatment of injuries due to falls is the most expensive health cost. In 2000, the total direct cost of fall injuries, for people 65 and older, exceeded 19 billion dollars in the U.S. This financial toll is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach 54.9 billion dollars by 2020 (adjusted to 2007 dollars).
Tai Chi for Arthritis program has been formally recognized by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control of CDC as an exercise form to prevent falls among older adults. Numerous studies have shown this program to be very effective in helping older adults reduce the risk of recurring falls by nearly 70%. In recognition of the program’s superior effectiveness in reducing falls, its name has been changed to Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention and includes increased emphasis on that aspect of the program.
Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention is among the programs recognized by the NCOA in its list of Evidence-Based Falls Prevention Programs. Tai Chi classes are offered at the King Senior Center every Friday at 2pm. The instructor is David M. McMahon, N.D., of Whole Health Center, 8025 North Point Blvd., Winston-Salem, NC 27106.
In 1997, Dr. Paul Lam, a family physician and tai chi expert, worked with a team of tai chi and medical specialists to create the Tai Chi for Arthritis program. The special features of this unique program are that it is easy to learn, enjoyable, and provides many health benefits in a relatively short period of time. For the uninitiated, tai chi may be a little daunting. The ancient Chinese exercise is hardly as mainstream as aerobics or the treadmill, but with its gentle, fluid movements and proven health benefits, it’s a natural arthritis workout.
Medical studies have shown that practicing this program reduces pain significantly, prevents falls for the elderly, and improves many aspects of health. For these reasons, Arthritis Foundations around the world have supported the program; in particular the Arthritis Foundation of America. Tai Chi for Arthritis is based on Sun style tai chi. This style was chosen because of its healing component, its unique Chi Kung (an exercise which improves relaxation and vital energy offered on Mondays at 10am), and its ability to improve mobility and balance. The program contains a carefully constructed set of warming-up and cooling-down exercises, Chi Kung breathing exercises, a Basic Core six movements, an Advanced Extension six movements, and adaptations of the movements for older adults. Most people can learn the basic Tai Chi for Arthritis movements in 8 to 12 one hour lessons, with regular practice in between the lessons. The entire program has much depth, allowing one to continue to improve, reach a higher level of tai chi, and enjoy greater health benefits for many years. Additionally, the Tai Chi for Arthritis form has a unique ability to pique learners’ interests, thereby increasing adherence to the program.