Parkinson's Disease and Taoist Tai Chi® arts
If you have been recently diagnosed or have been suffering for years, you know that Parkinson’s disease can cause problems with movement, posture, balance and cognition. Research into Tai Chi and Parkinson’s disease shows that Tai chi is very effective in helping people who have Parkinson’s. With Taoist Tai Chi® practice you can move more freely, maintain flexibility, find better alignment, posture and balance, and improve cognition. In addition, people practicing Taoist Tai Chi® arts have found a sense of lightness and well-being.
One Person’s Story of Longevity and Improved Quality of Life
“My name is Assunta and I’ve had Parkinson’s disease for almost 40 years. I have been practicing Taoist Tai Chi® arts for almost as long. I knew after my first class that the Taoist Tai Chi® arts were helping me. I first became stronger emotionally and then physically. Everything improved and I was better able to tolerate medications. I am taller and more flexible. The benefits of Taoist Tai Chi® practice are so good. I feel normal!
When I started Taoist Tai Chi® practice, I would tell my doctors ‘Taoist Tai Chi class is helping me.’ They would reply, ‘That’s nice dear.’ The last time I saw my neurologist he told his new nurse that I had had Parkinson Disease longer and was doing better than any of his patients. The Taoist Tai Chi® arts are an amazing treatment!”
– Assunta, Toronto, Canada
Assunta was taking part in a longitudinal international study – ‘The Parkinson’s Outcomes Project’ – which at the time of her enrollment followed 5500 people with Parkinson’s disease to determine best treatments. Remarkably, of that group, only 25 people had had Parkinson’s disease longer than Assunta.
Sadly, Assunta passed away in 2021, having survived with Parkinson’s disease for an extraordinarily long time. Throughout her life, she never missed an opportunity to tell the story of how Taoist Tai Chi® arts helped her live so fully.
- This meta-analysis found a significant amount of systematic reviews and studies into Tai Chi and Parkinson’s disease. They showed consistent evidence of the benefits of Tai Chi for people with Parkinson’s.
- The studies reviewed revealed that individuals who practiced Tai Chi in combination with their medication had improved balance and mobility than those who took medication alone. Tai Chi was also noted to be a cost-effective therapeutic intervention for individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Huston, P. and McFarlane, B. (2016). Health benefits of Tai Chi: What is the evidence? Canadian Family Physician, 62, 881-90.
- Both studies found that regular Tai Chi practice was more effective than similarly scheduled resistance-training or stretching programs in improving postural stability and other functional outcomes in individuals with Parkinson’s disease.
- The Tai Chi group in both studies experienced improved balance and stability as well as a reduced number of falls, improvements that remained at the 3-month follow-up.
- In both studies, the Tai Chi group also showed improvements in gait and reach measures. These measures indicate the potential for improved effectiveness in daily tasks such as opening cabinets, moving from standing to sitting (and vice versa), walking with lower risk of falls, and alleviating certain movement complications associated with Parkinson’s disease.
- The authors conclude that Tai Chi is an effective, stand-alone intervention for postural stability and functional ability in people with Parkinson’s disease.
Li, FZ., Harmer, P., Fitzgerald, K., et. al (2012). Tai Chi and Postural Stability in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease. New England Journal of Medicine 366, p. 511-519
Li, QH., Liu, JM., Dai, F., and Dai, FL. (2020). Tai Chi versus routine exercise in patients with early or mild-stage Parkinson’s disease: A retrospective cohort analysis. Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, 53(2).
- More than 6000 of 12,000 Taoist Tai Chi® arts practitioners across Canada responded to a National Health Questionnaire.
- 96% reported improved balance
- 84% reported improved mobility
- Respondents in the survey diagnosed with Parkinson’s all reported that Tai Chi has had a beneficial impact on their balance and sense of emotional well-being and has slowed the progression of the disease.
Fung Loy Kok Taoist Tai Chi (2016). Promoting vitality and well-being: How Taoist Tai Chi® arts impact health and reduce stress on public health services.
What are practitioners with Parkinson’s disease saying about Taoist Tai Chi® arts?
“I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 3 years ago. Taoist Tai Chi® practice has returned my mobility and balance. Neurologists visits are now done quarterly via teleconference versus monthly visits when 1st diagnosed.”
– Michael, Lindsey, Canada
“I was diagnosed with Parkinson ’s disease 20 years ago and I have now been doing Taoist Tai Chi® arts a long time too. Taoist Tai Chi® practice has kept my body working! It has also calmed me down and helped me with injuries I got in the past.”
– George, Vancouver, Canada
How does Taoist Tai Chi® practice help?
Taoist Tai Chi® arts involve a full range of motion with deep stretching and continuous turning of the spine. They exercise the whole physiology including muscular, skeletal, and circulatory systems, as well as tendons, joints, connective tissue and organs. This whole body approach has a profound effect on our health, increasing strength, flexibility and resilience, whatever our condition.
Taoist Tai Chi® arts are also a form of moving meditation that has a deep effect on the brain, calming and clearing the mind.
Move More Confidently – Be Active – Be Social