Is Yang style Tai Chi a “one size fits all” fall prevention exercise program for older adults?
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Falls among Canadian older adults is a growing problem, not only in terms of incident rates and its impacts, but most importantly, the vast scope of preventable morbidity and mortality. A decline in age-related physical function is acknowledged as a risk factor of falls. Community-based group exercise programs such as Yang style tai chi may help to reduce fall risk by improving components of physical function. To investigate, a pretest-posttest experimental design was conducted. Post-intervention assessments revealed Yang style tai chi practiced three times a week over eight weeks improved balance, muscle strength and muscle endurance. These findings suggest Yang style tai chi is moderately effective in reducing fall risk but further research is needed to determine the true effectiveness of tai chi as a fall prevention strategy. This study provides directions for future research guided by a proposed conceptual framework and offers some tentative recommendations for community health practice.