Effects of sedentary behaviour and long-term regular Tai Chi exercise on dynamic stability control during gait initiation in older women

Author: Yuxia Chen1,2, Chunxia Jin3, Hongyuan Tang2, Jinglun Yu1, Yuanxin Wang4, Shaolun Chen4, Wensheng Miao5, Shengnian Zhang1, Xiangdong Wang6
1 School of Exercise and Health, Shanghai University of Sport, Shanghai, China.
2 Henan Sports Science and Technology Center (Henan Anti-Doping Center), Zhengzhou, Henan, China.
3 Huanghe Science and Technology College, Zhengzhou, Henan, China.
4 Henan Provincial Third People's Hospital, Zhengzhou, Henan, China.
5 China Research Center on Aging, Beijing, Beijing, China.
6 School of Physical Education, Jimei University, Xiamen, Fujian, China.
Conference/Journal: Front Bioeng Biotechnol
Date published: 2024 May 9
Other: Volume ID: 12 , Pages: 1353270 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2024.1353270. , Word Count: 358

Background: Sedentary behaviour has been associated with an increased risk of falls among older adults. Although gait initiation (GI) is a promising tool used to assess fall risk, it has yet to be quantitatively evaluated for dynamic stability in sedentary populations. Tai Chi exercise is believed to be effective in preventing falls in older adults, but its effect on GI stability has not been quantified. This study aims to compare the stability of GI in sedentary older individuals versus those who are long-term Tai Chi exercisers by using a quantitative approach. Methods: This study included 17 sedentary older women without exercise habits (age: 65.59 ± 3.66 years, average daily sitting time: 8.735 ± 1.847 h/day) and 19 older women who regularly engage in Tai Chi exercise (age: 65.58 ± 3.63 years, years of exercise: 9.84 ± 3.48 years). Every participant underwent five trials of self-paced GI walking tests. Eight cameras and four force plates were used to obtain kinematic and kinetic parameters. The trajectory of the centre of mass (CoM) and the position of the foot placement were recorded. The anterior-posterior (A-P) and medio-lateral (M-L) dynamic stability at the onset and end moments of the single-legged support was calculated using CoM and gait spatiotemporal parameters. The stepping dynamic stability and foot placement positions of both groups were compared. Results: The Tai Chi group had greater stability in the M-L directions at the swing leg's toe-off moment and in the M-L and A-P directions at the heel-strike moment, as well as significantly larger step length, step width and step speed during locomotion than sedentary older women. However, the stability in the A-P directions at the swing leg's toe-off moment and the foot inclination angle was not statistically different between the two groups. Conclusion: Long-term regular Tai Chi exercise can enhance the dynamic stability of GI in older women, and effectively improve their foot placement strategy during GI. The findings further confirm the negative effect of sedentary on the stability control of older women and the positive role of Tai Chi in enhancing their gait stability and reducing the risk of falls.

Keywords: Tai Chi; dynamic stability control; foot placement strategy; gait initiation; margin of stability; older women.

PMID: 38784770 PMCID: PMC11111940 DOI: 10.3389/fbioe.2024.1353270