Ribble Valley Borough Council has joined forces with a local tai chi expert to offer courses in the ancient art for residents with mobility or balance problems.
Tai chi is famed for its health benefits and can help improve posture, strengthen muscles and joints and reduce pain and stress.
Research suggests its slow-moving and coordinated exercises can reduce the risk of falls among older people by improving balance and strength as well as calming the mind. Regular practice of tai chi can help people move, balance and walk with greater confidence through a better understanding of the body.
The council’s healthy lifestyles team has now joined forces with tai chi expert Bill Wilkinson to offer 12-week courses aimed specifically at those with mobility or balance problems. Bill has been practising Chen-style tai chi, the oldest and original form, for more than 15 years and teaching it for 10.
Tracy Balko, Ribble Valley Borough Council’s health and fitness officer, said: “Bill has a wealth of experience and has worked with people with a variety of health problems. We plan to start a class initially for those struggling with mobility and balance, and if successful the scheme will be expanded.”
Around 30 per cent of adults aged over 65 will experience at least one fall a year, rising to 50 per cent of adults aged over 80. 5% of falls result in injuries such as broken bones.
Tracy Balko added: “Falls are usually more serious and expensive to manage in the elderly, due to the cost of in-patient and residential care. They can also have an adverse psychological impact, resulting in a loss of confidence, becoming withdrawn and feeling as though independence has been lost. Tai chi can help with all these issues.”
The course is open to those referred by their GP or health professional and further details are available by calling Tracy Balko on 01200 425111.