Evidence on Tai Chi for Dementia

There is growing evidence that Tai Chi can significantly reduce the risk of dementia and improve cognitive function. A recent systematic review (Wayne et al 2014) identified 11 randomised control trials on the effect of Tai Chi interventions on cognitive functions. Meta-analyses of outcomes related to executive function in randomised control trials of cognitively healthy adults indicated a large effect size when  Tai Chi was compared to non-intervention controls and moderate yet statistically significant effect size when compared to exercise controls. Meta-analyses of outcomes related to global cognitive fucntion in randomised control trials of cognitively impaired adults, ranging from mild cognitive impairment to dementia, showed smaller, yet statistically significant effect when Tai Chi was compared to non-intevention controls and other active interventions. As listed below, seven out of the 11 randomised control trials were based on Yang Style Tai Chi, which is the the style used for the Tai Chi for Mental Health and Cognitive Improvement Program. The Tai Chi for Mental Health and Cognitive Improvement Program is based on the following research evidence.


Burgener SC, Yang Y, Gilbert R, et al. The effects of a multimodal intervention on outcomes of persons with early-stage dementia. Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Dement. 2008; 23:382–394.

Cheng ST, Chow PK, Song YQ, et al. Mental and physical activities delay cognitive decline in older persons with dementia. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2012 [Yang Style Tai Chi]

Deschamps A, Onifade C, Decamps A, et al. Health-related quality of life in frail institutionalized elderly: Effects of a cognition-action intervention and Tai Chi. J Aging Phys Act. 2009; 17:236– 248. [PubMed: 19451671] [Yang Style Tai Chi]

Dechamps A, Diolez P, Thiaudiere E, et al. Effects of exercise programs to prevent decline in health-related quality of life in highly deconditioned institutionalized elderly persons: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med. 2010; 170:162–169. [PubMed: 20101011] [Yang Style Tai Chi]

Lavretsky H, Alstein LL, Olmstead RE, et al. Complementary use of tai chi chih augments escitalopram treatment of geriatric depression: A randomized controlled trial. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2011; 19:839–850. [PubMed: 21358389]

Lam LC, Chau RC, Wong BM, et al. A 1-year randomized controlled trial comparing mind body exercise (Tai Chi) with stretching and toning exercise on cognitive function in older Chinese adults at risk of cognitive decline. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2012; 13:568, e515–e520. [PubMed: 22579072] [Yang Style Tai Chi]

Mortimer JA, Ding D, Borenstein AR, 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. J Alzheimers Dis. 2012; 30:757–766. [PubMed: 22451320]

Nguyen MH, Kruse A. A randomized controlled trial of Tai chi for balance, sleep quality and cognitive performance in elderly Vietnamese. Clin Interven Aging. 2012; 7:185–190. [Yang Style Tai Chi]

Taylor-Piliae RE, Newell KA, Cherin R, et al. Effects of Tai Chi and Western exercise on physical and cognitive functioning in healthy community-dwelling older adults. J Aging Phys Act. 2010; 18:261–279. [PubMed: 20651414] [Yang Style Tai Chi]

Tsai PF, Chang JY, Beck C, et al. A Pilot Cluster-Randomized Trial of a 20-Week Tai Chi Program in Elders With Cognitive Impairment and Osteoarthritic Knee: Effects on pain and other health outcomes. J Pain Symp Manage. 2013; 45:660–669.

Wang W, Sawada M, Noriyama Y, et al. Tai Chi exercise versus rehabilitation for the elderly with cerebral vascular disorder: A single-blinded randomized controlled trial. Psychogeriatrics. 2010; 10:160–166. [PubMed: 20860572] [Yang Style Tai Chi]

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