Tai Chi for Memory

The below is an excerpt from NPR’s wellness blog. Read the full piece at https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2023/11/06/1210507968/thai-chi-word-games-cognition-mentally-sharp-meditation-motion

There’s plenty of evidence that exercise can help protect our bodies and brains. And as we age, daily movement doesn’t need to be super intense. In fact, a new study finds tai chi, a slow-moving form of martial arts, can help slow cognitive decline and protect against dementia.

The study found that people who practiced a simplified form of tai chi called Tai Ji Quan twice a week for about six months improved their score by 1.5 points. This increase may not sound like a lot, but study author Dr. Elizabeth Eckstrom says “you’ve basically given yourself three extra years” of staving off decline. The study is published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Her theory on why tai chi is effective is that it combines the memorization of the movements, known as forms, almost like a dance choreography. “So, you’re getting the physical activity, plus the memory piece,” she says.