Tai Chi increases brain volume. Dementia. Stroke

Regular practice of Tai Chi increases brain volume.

Tai Chi, to be highly efficacious in combating dementia illnesses like Alzheimer’s. Researchers have shown that regular practice of Tai Chi increases brain volume, augments memory and thinking skills, and may combat dementia.

In a randomized controlled trial, researchers have shown that regular practice of Tai Chi in seniors increases brain volume and augments memory and thinking scores. Scientists collaborating from University of South Florida and Fudan University in China showed that Tai Chi that appears to actually increase brain volume. In this study, so...me participants practiced the ancient Chinese martial art three times weekly over an 8-month period while the control group received no intervention. Previous studies have demonstrated that aerobic exercise can increase brain volume but this is the first to study Tai Chi specifically. In fact, the researchers’ experiment even showed improvements on memory and thinking skills tests. These types of results show the treatment, Tai Chi, to be highly efficacious in combating dementia illnesses like Alzheimer’s. According to lead author Dr. James Mortimer, professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida College of Public Health, “epidemiologic studies have shown repeatedly that individuals who engage in more physical exercise or are more socially active have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.” See the 31 other articles on Tai Chi or see Related Content below.

References - James A. Mortimer, Ding Ding, Amy R. Borenstein, Charles DeCarli, Qihao Guo, Yougui Wu, et al. “Changes in Brain Volume and Cognition in a Randomized Trial of Exercise and Social Interaction in a Community-Based Sample of Non-Demented Chinese Elders.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Vol. 30 Number 4, Pages 757-766, June 2012. http://www.j-alz.com/issues/30/vol30-4.html


Dementia is the significant loss of intellectual abilities such as memory capacity which is severe enough to interfere with social or occupational functioning. Criteria for the diagnosis of dementia include impairment of attention, orientation, memory, judgment, language, motor and spatial skills, and function.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia. Dementia is not a natural part of aging, although most people with dementia are older. After the age of 65 the likelihood of living with dementia doubles every five years and it affects 24% of those aged 85 and over.

In 2004 a study conducted by researchers at the Tufts-New England Medical Center, Boston, USA on the effect of tai-chi on health outcomes in patients with chronic conditions: a systematic review was published in Archives of Internal Medicine. Six studies investigated the psychological effects of Tai Chi.

Results from two trials indicated that older adults who participated in a Tai Chi exercise program showed demonstrably better scores on indices that measured depression, psychological distress, and positive well-being. A non-randomised, controlled study, meanwhile, showed that patients with multi-infarct dementia or Alzheimer's disease who participated in twice-weekly Tai Chi sessions for 7 weeks demonstrated "thinking that was focused and insightful, beyond the level normally manifested for this group of participants."


A stroke is the sudden death of a portion of brain cells due to lack of oxygen. It occurs when blood flow to the brain is damaged, resulting in abnormal function of the brain. It is caused by a blockage or rupture of an artery to the brain. It has been estimated that approximately 40,000 to 48,000 stroke events occur in Australia each year. Approximately 70% of these are first time strokes, however about 12,000 people who have previously suffered a stroke, have another one every year. Incidence of stroke increases rapidly with age.

A recent study undertaken by the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University looked at whether short-form Tai Chi improved standing balance in people with chronic stroke. The researchers concluded that Twelve weeks of short-form Tai Chi produced specific standing balance improvements in people with chronic stroke that outlasted training for 6 weeks.