The purpose of this study was to find what effects Tai Chi Chuan (a form of exercise) had on balance, flexibility and psychosocial aspects in the elderly. A convenience sample was taken of people 55 and over (ages ranged from 58 to 92) from Dave Barrett's Tai Chi classes. The subjects were measured for spinal and shoulder flexibility, tested with eight different balance test batteries, and give an affect balance scale questionnaire to rate the psychosocial aspects. Pre- and post- treatment measures were recorded over an eight week period of Tai Chi classes and home practice. The actual number of practices averaged three to five sessions a week. Analysis of variance revealed significant improvement on the Sharpened Romberg balance test. Other data revealed that Tai Chi does in fact have promising effects on the positive affect of the elderly group and a trend towards improved flexibility was obvious. However, due to the limitations of this study, an adequate conclusion cannot be stated about the effects of Tai Chi on other balance tests. Further controlled research solely in the area of balance is highly recommended.
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