Tai Chi is a Chinese wellness practice that has been previously associated with a variety of physical and mental health benefits. James Mortimer, from the University of South Florida (Florida, USA), with colleagues from Fudan University (China), completed an 8-month randomized controlled trial comparing 120 Chinese seniors who practiced Tai Chi three times a week to a group who did not.
The researchers observed that the subjects who practiced Tai Chi experienced increases in brain volume and improvements on tests of memory and thinking, as compared to a group that participated in lively discussions three times per week over the same time period (control group). Further, the control group displayed brain shrinkage over the study period, consistent with what generally has been observed for persons in their 60s and 70s. The study authors report that these findings “show increases in brain volume and improvements in cognition with a largely non-aerobic exercise (Tai Chi).”
- James A. Mortimer, Ding Ding, Amy R. Borenstein, Charles DeCarli, Qihao Guo, Yougui Wu, et al. “Changes in Brain Volume and Cognition in a Randomized Trial of Exercise and Social Interaction in a Community-Based Sample of Non-Demented Chinese Elders.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Vol. 30 Number 4, Pages 757–66, June 2012.