The Unique Exercise That Can Help Your Brain Age Backwards

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A 2023 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine sought to determine if tai chi or a cognitively enhanced tai chi would help people who have memory decline. They split 318 older adults into three groups after measuring their cognition using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA). One group practiced cognitively enhanced tai chi, which had people spell words backward as they flowed through some of the tai chi movements. The second practiced regular tai chi, and the third stretched. Each group performed these guided exercises for an hour twice a week for six months.

The regular tai chi group improved their MoCA scores by 1.5 points, which study author Elizabeth Eckstrom equates to shaving off three years of cognitive decline (via NPR). Eckstrom says that you typically lose half a point each year if you already have mild cognitive decline. The group that did the cognitively enhanced tai chi improved their MoCA scores by 3 points, which means saving six years of cognitive decline.

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