Can Tai Chi Help Slow The Progression Of Parkinsons? Can Tai Chi Help Slow The Progression Of Parkinsons?

Can Tai Chi Help Slow The Progression Of Parkinson’s?


Individuals living with Parkinson’s disease often experience impaired motor skills, including tremors, difficulty with balance, and problems with coordination.


Researchers are investigating whether engaging in physical activity can delay the onset of Parkinson's and alleviate its symptoms.


It has been discovered that tai chi can help to retard the advancement of ailments and reduce the amount of medications needed over time for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease.


Globally, over 10 million individuals are living with Parkinson’s disease, a neurological disorder.


Movement changes such as tremors, gait alterations, coordination difficulties, and balance difficulties are primary symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.


Research indicates that regular physical activity has the potential to delay the progression of the disease and maintain mobility for a more extended period.


The researchers have discovered that tai chi can potentially reduce the severity of Parkinson's Disease symptoms and may also allow patients to take lower doses of medications.

Tai Chi Twice A Week For Parkinson’s

 a study monitored two groups of people with Parkinson’s disease over five years.


330 individuals participated in this study, with 143 attending a tai chi class twice weekly to improve their technique. The remaining 187 participants continued their standard medical care without additional tai chi instruction.


At the beginning of the study, all participants were assessed for the severity of their disease, and the development was monitored for five years, including any increases in the need for medications.


Compared to the control group, the tai chi group exhibited a slower rate of disease progression across all measured points, including overall symptoms, movement, and balance.


At the end of the five-year study, the tai chi group had a significantly lower number of participants who needed to increase their medication. However, the control group had a more significant increase in their levodopa equivalent daily dosage (LEDD) at each follow-up point, indicating that the tai chi group had more significant benefits in terms of medication usage.


By 2021, the control group took a daily dose of 436.7, more than double the 203.99 dose taken by the tai chi group. Cognitive function declined slower in the tai chi group than in the control group, and their sleep and quality of life also showed greater improvement.


The enduring positive effects of tai chi, considering that there is limited research exploring the long-term impact of sports on Parkinson's disease. Hence, medical professionals should emphasise the significance of physical activity, as it can postpone the need to increase antiparkinsonian treatments.


The research focused on early-stage patients who had not yet developed severe postural instability. Therefore, while tai chi may benefit early-stage patients, caution must be taken when applying it to late-stage patients due to the risk of falls.

Exercise Benefits Parkinson’s

Observing the trend of tai chi becoming an evidence-based intervention for those with Parkinson's, activities such as dance, boxing, and table tennis are recommended as neuromotor exercises to help with the condition. Such exercises involve coordination of the body and mind, which can benefit those with Parkinson's.


Tai chi is one of the few exercises for Parkinson's with a solid evidence base, which is encouraging. Most exercises prescribed for this condition may have a different level of scientific backing.


Currently, exercise is the only known treatment that can help to slow down the progression of Parkinson's disease. This has led to the development of intense exercise programs, such as Rock Steady Boxing and the use of the Theracycle, which are beneficial to Parkinson's patients. Tai chi, however, is a slower form of exercise that involves well-practised, gentle movements that focus on balance and attention to detail.


People with Parkinson's can now benefit from mindfulness exercises.


Being mindful of one's actions can help people with Parkinson's disease in everyday situations, such as when navigating the kitchen to complete daily tasks. This can be especially difficult for those who are living with the condition.

Exercises To Help Manage Parkinson’s Disease

Due to the destruction of dopamine molecules, which transmit signals between neurons, individuals with Parkinson's disease experience problems with movement.

Therefore, exercise is essential for keeping the strength, flexibility, and balance of the body in check, which can help to manage symptoms of Parkinson's disease.


Studies have demonstrated that engaging in regular physical activity can help reduce symptoms such as depression, fatigue, and apathy that are associated with the condition.


Regular exercise can help prevent cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, as well as other health issues that can arise from a lack of physical activity.


It is suggested that people with Parkinson’s Disease should incorporate physical activity into their routine. This includes activities such as:

  • Brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming, or aerobics classes are all aerobic activities

  • Balance, agility, and multitasking exercises such as yoga, dance, boxing, and tai chi are recommended

  • Strength training from a trusted source

  • Stretching

Tai Chi’s Benefits

Tai Chi has been practised in China for over a thousand years.


Tai chi is a form of exercise that combines physical movement, meditation, and deep breathing. It uses a series of low-impact, slow-motion signals to create a state of mindfulness. This form of moving meditation has many physical and mental benefits, making it a popular choice.


Tai chi does not require any particular apparatus and can be done either alone or with a group, whether it is in the comforts of your own home or an outdoor setting.


Previous studies have demonstrated that practising tai chi can enhance flexibility and strength, improve coordination, and improve overall mood. Additionally, it has been shown to support better balance and cognitive functioning.


Exercising can be of great benefit to individuals suffering from chronic lower back pain and fibromyalgia, as it can help to reduce pain and discomfort.


Studies have suggested that tai chi can improve cognitive functioning in individuals with dementia. It is estimated that a proportion of 20-40% of people with Parkinson's disease also have dementia.

How Tai Chi May Help With Parkinson’s Disease

Although drug therapy is the most common way to treat motor symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease, both motor and non-motor complications can occur in the later stages of the condition.


According to the expert, drug therapies can have adverse effects that can cause symptoms to become worse, such as orthostatic hypotension. Dopamine-based treatments mainly target the lack of dopamine and can improve symptoms such as bradykinesia; however, they are not very effective in addressing balance and gait issues associated with Parkinson's disease.


Research has shown that people with Parkinson's disease can benefit from practising tai chi, as it helps to increase postural stability.


Studies suggest that engaging in sports, including tai chi, may help to alleviate non-motor symptoms and enhance the quality of life for those with Parkinson's disease. This is likely due to improvements in neural networks and metabolomics, as well as a reduction in neuroinflammation, which are all linked to increased neuroplasticity.

Tai Chi Vs. Other Conventional Exercises

Research has indicated that engaging in regular tai chi sessions could be a beneficial tool for individuals with Parkinson's disease. It may slow the disorder's progression, limit the requirement for medication, and advance both motor and non-motor symptoms, ultimately improving the quality of life for those afflicted.


Before beginning any exercise regimen, individuals with Parkinson's disease should consult a healthcare provider to determine the type and intensity of exercise that will be best for them. Research on exercise and Parkinson's disease has repeatedly shown positive effects, so it is essential to consider how exercise can benefit the individual patient.


Individuals may prefer tai chi or conventional exercises for physical fitness depending on their needs, physical conditions, and goals. In any case, a healthcare provider should be consulted to determine the best approach for the individual. Tai chi has the potential to improve balance and reduce the risk of falls, while conventional exercises offer a wide range of options for targeting various aspects of physical fitness.


The authors note that their study is observational and, as a result, cannot establish causation. To reduce any differences between the two groups, the authors matched them on disease severity and avoided selecting people as controls who were not motivated to practice tai chi. However, they advise that further randomised control trials are necessary to confirm any findings.


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