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There have been numerous studies detailing the the advantages of Tai Chi practice in relation to PD, including the 2012 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Dr. Fuzhong Li and others. In these studies regular, 2x a week, Tai Chi practice is demonstrated to be more effective than conventional exercising and stretching in both reducing the incidence of falls and in measurable functional capacities for people with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease.
In our experience teaching Tai Chi, we use the large movements of Tai Chi to counteract the tendency to begin inhibiting physical expression. We practice the deliberate weight shifts in Tai Chi to build up both strength and awareness of balance, resulting in improved confidence. We train ourselves to lower our center of gravity and keep our knees bent, resulting in better balance. Perhaps most importantly, we use Tai Chi practice to challenge ourselves, and to become more comfortable with the idea of being challenged, for when we are not intimidated by the spectre of challenge we are far more likely to keep stepping forward toward greater functionality in all aspects of our life.
Fuzhong Li, PhD, Peter Harmer, PhD, MPH, Russell Glasgow, PhD, Karin A. Mack, PhD, David Sleet, PhD, K. John Fisher, PhD, Melvin A. Kohn, MD, MPH, Lisa M. Millet, MSH, Jennifer Mead, MPH, Junheng Xu, BS, Mei-Li Lin, PhD, Tingzhong Yang, MD, Beth Sutton, and Yvaughn Tompkins (2008)
Translation of an Effective Tai Chi Intervention Into a Community-Based Falls-Prevention Program American Journal of Public Health doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.120402
Petzinger GM1, Fisher BE, McEwen S, Beeler JA, Walsh JP, Jakowec MW. (2013)
Exercise-enhanced neuroplasticity targeting motor and cognitive circuitry in Parkinson’s disease. [Abstract] doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(13)70123-6.