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About the Moving for Better Balance Protocol

The program includes eight Tai Chi forms that emphasized weight shifting, postural alignment, and smooth coordinated movements. Synchronized breathing aligned with Tai Chi movements are integrated into the movement routine. Each session includes instructions in new movements as well as review of movements from previous sessions. Each practice session may incorporate musical accompaniment. Each hour-long session includes:

  • A 5- to 10-minute warm-up period
  • Practice of Tai Chi movements
  • A 5- to 10-minute cool-down period
  • Home practice encouraged

Tai Chi instructors follow the classical Yang style, which emphasizes multidirectional weight shifting, body alignment, and coordinated movement of the arms, legs, and trunk.

Minimum Level of Training Needed

Instructor should be familiar with the fundamental principles of Tai Chi and the major postures and movements, be able to follow the training protocol, and have experience teaching physical activity to older adults.  Many health professionals find this program extremely complementary to their practice, especially physical therapists, occupational therapists, acupuncturists, nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, naturopaths, osteopaths, and personal trainers.

Key Elements

  • Program settings can include facilities such as senior centers, adult activity centers, community centers and faith based community centers.
  • An average class size of 15 is ideal for effective learning and teaching.
  • For this program to be successful, participants should attend Tai Chi classes at least 2 times a week and participate actively in class.
  • Tai Chi can also be used in rehabilitative settings where the emphasis is on retraining balance in older adults.
  • Paticipants are relatively fit older adults (60+ years), without major ambulatory problems, and without cognitive impairment.

Detailed program description

Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance is a group program that focuses on improving functional ability, such as balance and physical function, to reduce fall-related risks and frequency. The program is delivered by an authorized Master Trainer or instructor over the course of at least 12 weeks.

A team of researchers at the Oregon Research Institute (ORI) developed Tai chi: Moving for Better Balance, which was tested and demonstrated effective in decreasing the number of falls, the risk of falling, and fear of falling, and improving functional balance and physical performance among persons aged 70 and older.1 The program uses eight forms that have been derived from the traditional 24-form Yang-style Tai chi, and progresses from easy to difficult.

To develop this compilation of Tai chi: Moving for Better Balance program materials, CDC consulted with public health experts from around the United States:

  • Portions from the Tai chi: Moving for Better Balance implementation guide, instructors’ manual, supplemental materials, and participants’ course book (produced by ORI and adapted by NCIPC),
  • Input and feedback from state health department representatives and other partners who were involved in the pilot projects,
  • Recommendations from the Safe States Alliance that conducted a multi-site evaluation of an initial pilot of Tai chi: Moving for Better Balance in four state health departments, and
  • Sections and recommendations from CDC’s publication, Preventing Falls: How to Develop Community-based Fall Prevention Programs for Older Adults, that provides guidelines to community-based organizations interested in developing effective fall prevention programs.

For more information about our next Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance training, email or sign up for our Community Listserv to receive all event announcements.

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