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Authors

  1. Szulecki, Diane Editor

Article Content

On this month's cover, a group practices tai chi amidst snowfall in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China. Tai chi is a gentle, low-impact form of exercise that promotes strength, balance, and flexibility; it involves performing slow, meditative movements while focusing on breathing.

  
Figure. On this mont... - Click to enlarge in new window On this month's cover, a group practices tai chi amidst snowfall in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China. Photo (C) REUTERS / Stringer.

Research findings suggest that practicing tai chi may have numerous health benefits-including reducing the risk of falls in older adults, improving balance impairments in people with mild-to-moderate Parkinson's disease, improving quality of life and mood in people with cancer and heart failure, and reducing anxiety. And it can be adapted to suit nearly all levels of physical ability. Bruce McKenna, an expert tai chi practitioner and long-time teacher, says he's seen examples of "remarkable" success among the seniors he teaches. His oldest student, for instance, is 103, and spent the first several weeks of the class-which she joined at age 99-sitting and watching. "Then she started to move her fingers at week 6. By week 10 she was moving more and more. She began to stand for part of the class for just a few seconds at first," he says. "But she persisted, and within six months she was able to balance on either leg for several seconds unsupported." Another student, says McKenna, progressed to standing for several minutes after spending the prior year in a wheelchair, and is now focused on improving her walking.

 

For people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends regular aerobic exercise, flexibility exercises (such as tai chi and yoga), and strength training for disease management. See our original research CE, "Physical Activity Among Chinese American Immigrants with Prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes," to learn about a study that examined this population's levels of exercise intensity-the results of which underscore a need for nurses to encourage physical activity among such patients.-Diane Szulecki, editor