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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Tai Chi for Balance, Strength and Overall Well-Being

Jul 31, 2015 02:10PM ● By Linda Sechrist

Lisa and Keith Banks, owners of Movement 4 Life, in Fort Myers, have added balance-promoting tai chi exercises to their menu of prevention and wellness services. “Lisa and I trained in tai chi in order to specifically help local seniors reduce their risk of falling so that they can live independently longer. Statistics show that each year about one-third of adults aged 65 years or older fall, and 20 to 30 percent of these individuals suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures and head traumas,” explains Keith.

Tai chi, often referred to as moving meditation, involves slow and continuous coordinated motions that shift weight and body alignment in a circular, flowing manner. This gentle form of exercise, synchronized with deep breathing, originated in China as a martial art. It has the potential to reduce blood pressure; improve muscular strength, balance and postural control; improve sleep quality; reduce depression; and enhance mental well-being. “In other words, tai chi improves the overall quality of life,” say the Banks.

The results of a randomized controlled trial of 256 physically inactive individuals aged 72 to 92 that participated three times per week in either tai chi or stretching exercises demonstrated that tai chi is effective in decreasing the number of falls, the risk for falling, and the fear of falling. It definitely improves functional balance and physical performance in physically inactive persons aged 70 years or older.

“If necessary, we modify the program to accommodate people with functional limitations, such as those who have difficulty standing for extended periods of time or who use assisted devices such as a cane or walker. We can teach the class in a standing or sitting position,” advise the Banks, whose mobile Movement 4 Life company gives them the freedom to teach tai chi and other classes such as Mind/Body Awareness, Movement 4 Women and Tai Chi for Arthritis, as well as Basics 4 Health, anywhere. Classes are currently offered at the Center for Performing Arts, in Bonita Springs.

Locations: Center for the Arts, 10150 Bonita Beach Rd. SE, Bonita Springs; Camp Fit, 4430 Hancock Bridge Pkwy, N. Ft. Myers. For more information or to schedule training sessions, call 239-841-4044 or email [email protected].

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