The Australian population is aging. By 2031, almost one in every five people in the Australian population will be aged 65 years and older (ABS, 2015). So, as our population ages, the number of older people driving also increase and anything that can be done to reduce the risk of accidents and injury are always welcome.

According to a study (Miller & Taylor-Piliae, 2018) published in the Journal of Sports and Health Science, taijiquan may be one form of exercise that has the potential to positively impact on driver performance of older adults. The authors of this paper believe that this is the first study that examines the association between specific cognitive processes and the physical function related to driving performance among taijiquan practitioners aged 65 and over.

This observational study evaluated 58 practitioners who had received formal instruction in taijiquan (e.g., not self-taught). The participants were aged 65 years and older (mean age 72.9 years) and history of taijiquan practise of no less than 3-months (median > 3 years) and practised for at least 30 minutes each week. The majority of participants reported practising either Yang or Sun-style with five reporting as Chen-style practitioners, several participants reported practising more than one style.

The study found that compared to the reference group the research participants performed better on a number of cognitive measures including the Driving Scenes Test, maze navigation, the Useful Field of View Test and on a number of physical measures including the Rapid Walk Test and the Right Foot Tapping Test. Participants also scored higher than normative reference values on the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale and the Vitality Plus Scale. The researchers believe that further investigation into taijiquan as a potential strategy to maintain driver performance in older adults is warranted.

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