Take up tai chi to prevent falls, elderly told

Old people should take up the ancient Chinese martial art of tai chi to prevent falls, according to expert guidelines.

New joint advice from the British Geriatrics Society and the American Geriatrics Society, published today (WED), recommends that all methods of preventing falls “should include an exercise component”.

One suggestion is to take up tai chi, in which martial art movements are carried out in a slow, controlled fashion.

The updated guidelines are based on years of studies examining what does and does not prevent falls, which often lead to hip fractures that can result in extended hospitalisation, and sometimes death.

Tai chi was one example of an exercise for “balance, gait and strength training”.

Dr Mary Tinetti of Yale University School of Medicine in the US, who sat on the panel that drew up the guidance, said: “Falls are one of the most common health problems experienced by older adults and are a common cause of losing functional independence.

“Given their frequency and consequences, falls are as serious a health problem for older persons as heart attacks and strokes.”

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