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Tai Chi to Help Residents with Mobility and Balance

Tai chi Published Thursday, 13 August 2015

Ribble Valley Borough Council has joined forces with a local tai chi expert to offer courses in the ancient art for residents with mobility or balance problems.

Tai chi, which originates from ancient China, is famed for its health benefits and can help improve posture and flexibility, strengthen muscles and joints and reduce pain and stress.

Recent research suggests its straightforward, slow-moving and coordinated exercises can reduce the risk of falls among older people by improving balance, strength, flexibility and mobility, as well as calming the mind.

Regular practice of tai chi can help people move, stand, balance and walk with greater confidence through a greater understanding and sensitivity of the body.

The council’s healthy lifestyles team has been delivering tai chi for a number of years, but has now joined forces with Clitheroe tai chi expert Bill Wilkinson to offer 12-week courses aimed specifically at residents with mobility or balance problems.

Bill has been practising Chen-style tai chi, the oldest and original form of tai chi, for over 15 years and teaching it for 10.

T racy Balko, Ribble Valley Borough Council’s health and fitness officer, said: “Bill has a wealth of experience and has worked with people with a variety of health problems. He shares our philosophy that everyone, no matter what their age or ability, can benefit from tai chi.

“We plan to start a class initially for our healthy lifestyle clients struggling with mobility and balance, and if successful the scheme will be expanded and continued.”

Around 30 per cent of adults aged over 65 and living at home will experience at least one fall a year, rising to 50 per cent of adults aged over 80. Most falls do not result in serious injury, but five per cent do, such as broken bones.

Tracy Balko added: “Falls are usually more serious and expensive to manage in the elderly, due to the cost of in-patient and residential care.

“They can also have an adverse psychological impact on sufferers, who can lose confidence, become withdrawn and feel as if they have lost their independence.

“Tai chi can help those at risk improve their strength, balance and confidence, and we are delighted to be working with Bill Wilkinson on this new initiative.”

The course is open to residents with balance and mobility issues by referral from their GP or health professional and further details are available from Tracy Balko on 01200 425111.

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