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Tai Ji Quan Training for Enhancing Global Cognition and Dual-Task Performance in Older Adults

Global cognition and dual-task gait performance were improved among community-dwelling older adults who practiced home-based, cognitively enriched tai ji quan therapy, compared with standard tai ji quan and stretching exercises, a study shows. Improvements were sustained for 48 weeks. “The virtual … intervention also had high intervention fidelity and adherence, and could be a feasible, acceptable exercise-based therapy for older adults with [mild cognitive impairment (MCI)],” the authors conclude.

Previous clinical trials have shown that tai ji quan, a moderate-intensity mind–body exercise, improves cognition in healthy older adults. In the current study, 318 older adults with self-reported memory decline or concern and a Clinical Dementia Rating global score of 0.5 or lower at baseline were randomly assigned to 1 hour twice weekly cognitively enhanced tai ji quan, standard tai ji quan, or stretching, all performed at home using real-time videoconferencing, for 24 weeks.

Based on co–primary endpoints of change in Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA; range, 0 to 30) and dual-task walking costs (percentage difference between single- and dual-task gait speed) from baseline to 24 weeks, the study showed the following: “A total of 304 participants (96%) completed the 24-week assessment. Cognitively enhanced tai ji quan outperformed standard tai ji quan and stretching with a greater improvement in MoCA score (mean difference, 1.5 points [98.75% CI, 0.7 to 2.2 points] and 2.8 points [CI, 2.1 to 3.6 points], respectively) and in dual-task walking (mean difference, 9.9% [CI, 2.8% to 16.6%] and 22% [CI, 13% to 31%], respectively). The intervention effects persisted at 48-week follow-up.”

Source: Annals of Internal Medicine