Indexed on: 05 Apr '07Published on: 05 Apr '07Published in: Physical therapy
Tai chi, a Chinese exercise derived from martial arts, while gaining popularity as an intervention for reducing falls in older adults, also may improve health status. The purpose of this study was to determine whether intense tai chi (TC) exercise could improve perceived health status and self-rated health (SRH) more than wellness education (WE) for older adults who are transitionally frail.Study subjects were 269 women who were >or=70 years of age and who were recruited from 20 congregate independent senior living facilities.Participants took part in a 48-week, single-blind, randomized controlled trial. They were randomly assigned to receive either TC or WE interventions. Participants were interviewed before randomization and at 1 year regarding their perceived health status and SRH. Perceived health status was measured with the Sickness Impact Profile (SIP).Compared with WE participants, TC participants reported significant improvements in the physical dimension and ambulation categories and borderline significant improvements in the body care and movement category of the SIP. Self-rated health did not change for either group.These findings suggest that older women who are transitionally frail and participate in intensive TC exercise demonstrate perceived health status benefits, most notably in ambulation.