Several adults use their arms to practice Tai Ji Quan: Movement for Better Balance.

Tai Ji Quan Program Enhances Quality of Life for Aging Adults

Authored on

Many communities in North Dakota are looking for ways to help older adults maintain their health and independence. Recognizing the need for services, NDSU Extension began offering Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance, a national evidence-based program designed to improve strength, balance, mobility and daily function, reducing participants’ risk of falling.

The Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance program has a foundation in martial arts but has been modified for falls prevention. Research shows that the program enhances quality of life and is more effective at reducing falls than conventional exercise approaches. It also provides stress relief and has additional therapeutic benefits for patients with Parkinson’s Disease and other mobility impairments.

“Survey results indicate that 60% of participants report that the class helped them improve overall in the activities of daily living,” says Jane Strommen, NDSU Extension gerontology specialist. “This is important because maintaining functional capabilities helps individuals to remain independent.”

Classes are offered in a fun, relaxing environment. Participants learn eight tai ji quan forms plus variations for therapeutic value.

Sue Milender, NDSU Extension agent in Barnes County, has offered Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance several times in the Valley City area based on high demand. Past participants continue to ask for refresher courses and more sessions.

“I was surprised by the engagement and excitement of participants,” says Milender. “I think it’s a testament to the value this program has and word of mouth from participants who have noticed real benefits in their life.”

Since its implementation in North Dakota, Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance instructors have offered eight classes and reached 100 individuals. More classes are being planned at sites across the state.

Funding for the instructor certification was provided by the North Dakota Department of Human Service - Division of Aging Services.


Jane Strommen, 701-231-5948,