Are customized routines really better than a standard protocol? One recent study posed this question in reference to tai chi: Is it better to offer a standard tai chi sequence or to individualize moves to a person’s needs?

Researchers from several universities and hospitals in Taipei, Taiwan, compared adults ages 65 or older in a traditional tai chi training group with those assigned to individualized movement sequences, based on a needs assessment, and with a control group that did not exercise.

After 8 weeks of training, investigators found that subjects in the individualized program experienced significant improvements in all functional balance tests and strength assessments, as compared with the control group. In contrast, people in the traditional tai chi group experienced improvements only in balance and in muscle strength in the hips and ankles.

Study authors noted that personalized tai chi training based on objective measurements and conducted according to graded intensity and complexity benefited practitioners after a short period. Further research is warranted.

The study is available in BMC Geriatrics (2019; 19 [235]).