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Tai Chi Exercise increased Brain Size in Elderly

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credit: National Cancer Institute Bill Branson (Photographer) - PD

(Best Syndication News) - A study found that Chinese elderly people were able to increase brain volume and improve their memory and thinking skills when they did Tai Chi three times per week over an eight month period. Researchers from the University of South Florida and Fudan University in Shanghai, China reported their findings in the Journal of Alzheimer ’s disease.

The study was inspired from previous research that showed increased brain volume after people participated in aerobic exercise programs. These researchers conducted an 8-month randomized controlled trial that assigned one group to practice Tai Chi and the other had no change. During the same trial, the researchers found that the group that was part of lively discussions three times per week, also showed increased brain volume and mild cognitive improvements.

Tai Chi is a slow motion non-aerobic exercise. The exercises are relatively simple and don't require jumping around. Tai Chi helps to improve balance and coordination.

The researchers found that those that did not participate in the Tai Chi program showed brain shrinkage during the same time. The brain shrinkage was typical of most people in their 60s and 70s.

Lead author Dr. James Mortimer, professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida College of Public Health, explained that brain shrinkage can be reversed with physical exercise. The benefits could also potentially slow down the start of dementia in elderly people he adds. Dr. Mortimer also said that other studies have shown people that participated in physical exercise or were socially active had a reduced risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

By: Marsha Quinn
Health Reporter

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