Harvard Review Shows Tai Chi Enhancing Cognitive Performance in Older Adults
January 9, 2014 -
The January 2014 issue of
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
published a comprehensive review by researchers from Harvard Medical School and
Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston about the effect of Tai Chi on cognitive
performance in older adults.
To perform this systematic review with meta-analysis, the
researchers identified 20 eligible studies with a total of 2,553 participants
that met inclusion criteria; 11 of the 20 eligible studies were randomized
controlled trials (RCTs), one was a prospective nonrandomized controlled study,
four were prospective noncontrolled observational studies, and four were
cross-sectional studies. Overall quality of RCTs was modest, with three of 11
trials categorized as high risk of bias.
Meta-analyses of outcomes related to
executive function in RCTs of cognitively healthy adults indicated a large
effect size when Tai Chi participants were compared with
nonintervention controls and a moderate effect size when compared with exercise
Meta-analyses of outcomes related to global cognitive function in
RCTs of cognitively impaired adults, ranging from mild cognitive impairment to
dementia, showed smaller but statistically significant effects when Tai Chi was compared with nonintervention
controls and other active interventions.
Findings from nonrandomized studies add further evidence that Tai Chi may positively affect these and other
domains of cognitive function.
The researchers concluded that Tai Chi shows potential to enhance cognitive
function in older adults, particularly in the realm of executive functioning and
in individuals without significant impairment. Larger and methodologically sound
trials with longer follow-up periods are needed before more-definitive
conclusions can be drawn.