Can Tai Chi Actually Increase Cognitive Abilities

I often tease in class that I am going to get a t-shirt that says “Tai Chi Increases Your Cognitive Abilities”.  Recent studies are exploring just that.  Does Tai Chi improve cognition and mental health?  Helen Lavretsky, a professor of Psychiatry at the University of California in Los Angeles has conducted many studies and believes you “can’t go wrong with Tai Chi or any of the mind-body activities because they help reduce stress and build resilience”.  

As people age, they frequently stop being active and depression often sets in.   Tai Chi is a gentle exercise that can be done by people of all ages and most physical conditions.

According to “A Sharper Mind: Tai Chi Can Improve Function” an article in Harvard Health Publishing’s Healthbeat, recent research has shown that as we age, the brain maintains the ability to grow new cells and connections and even increase in size.  According to Harvard Medical School studies, various forms of exercise “including Tai Chi” can help. 

 According to a twenty-study meta-analysis of Tai Chi conducted at Harvard, Tai Chi appears to improve executive function (defined as the ability to multitask, manage time and make decisions) in people without any cognitive decline.  In addition, in those already exhibiting mild cognitive impairment, Tai Chi appears to slow progression to dementia.   In fact, Tai Chi improved cognitive function in these individuals more than any other type of cognitive training exercise. 

 I’d better remember to get that t-shirt printed!