Cumberland Times-News

Local News

January 20, 2013

Tai Chi class helps seniors stay on their feet

Ancient martial art form improves balance, says instructor

FROSTBURG — Seniors in Frostburg are working to improve their balance to prevent falls through a program titled “Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance.”

Lisa Bohrer, a community health and wellness manager at PharmaCare Network, teaches the program twice a week at the Frostburg Senior Center.

“The benefits of Tai Chi are improved balance; stronger abdominal muscles and leg muscles; improved self-confidence; improved posture and an overall a sense of wellness and tranquility,” said Bohrer, who said she is the only instructor trained in this particular program in Allegany and Garrett counties. “Plus, it is a great social gathering for them.”

“Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art form comprised of slow, deliberate movements simulating defensive and offensive poses,” said Bohrer.

Frostburg resident Carol Adams joined the program for the exercise and the social aspect because she knew Bohrer and some of the people in the program.

“It’s relaxing. Lisa has music playing during the entire session,” said Adams. “There is no pressure on you and you can go at your own speed. I like the way it makes me feel.”

Frostburg resident Beverly Gardner joined to better her balance.

“The program helps improve balance in older people. The program has benefited me quite a bit. It has helped strengthen my core,” said Gardner, who last summer was in and out of surgery for issues with her muscles.

Bohrer has been teaching the program since November to about 30 seniors.

“Lisa is really good at making sure everyone is getting each movement to where it will help better our balance and help with our core,” said Gardner.

Bohrer heard about the program through the Allegany County Health Department and then traveled to Laurel to learn from Fuzhong Li, a scientist who developed the program.

“(Li) works for the Oregon Research Institute and has studied falls in the elderly,” said Bohrer. “This program has been taught in several states; however, the National Institutes of Health has embraced it.”

Oregon Research Institute studies have found that the program can substantially decrease the risk of falls in older adults. A study comparing the effectiveness of a six-month program of Tai Chi classes with a program of stretching exercises found that participants in Tai Chi classes had fewer falls and fewer fall injuries, and their risk of falling was decreased 55 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The program is offered from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Frostburg Senior Center.  

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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