How You Can Benefit From Tai Chi

Balancing Stones

The health benefits of practicing Tai Chi are extensive. Tai Chi started in China as a type of martial art and was an outgrowth of Taoist philosophy, a practice emphasizing reflection and tranquility. Today, tai chi is taught as a method for reaching peace of mind, to improve physical strength, as well as balance. Keep reading to find out how tai chi can improve your overall functionality.

Balance, Coordination, and Less Falling: The American Geriatrics Society and its British counterpart published new guidelines in 2011 that recommended tai chi because it improves strength and gait. Research has shown that practicing this ancient martial art can reduce the risk of falling, especially in older participants.

Arthritis Relief: According to Berkeley Wellness, a 2009 study from Tufts University found that people over 65 with knee osteoarthritis who attended tai chi classes twice a week for 12 weeks had less pain and experienced enhanced physical function, compared to a group of participants who were counseled for stretching practices.

Therapy and Rehabilitation: Tai chi can serve as an aid to physical therapy while you’re recovering from a physical injury, heart attack, or surgery. The involved movements exercise your joints to their full range of motion and can help restore any lost flexibility. Physical therapists can customize tai chi programs to your specific needs.

Sleep and Relaxation: Tai chi can relieve built up tension and anxiety, thus promoting better relaxation. In a 2008 UCLA study, older people who had had mild sleep complaints and starting practicing tai chi reported being able to get better sleep and feeling more alert during the day after 25 weeks.

Managing Diabetes: The University of Florida School of Nursing published a 2009 study that focused on type 2 diabetes patients who took tai chi classes twice a week, with three days a week of home practice for six months. Those who strictly followed the schedule lowered their blood sugar and were able to manage the disease more effectively.

In order to get started you will need an instructor to walk you through the movements. You can often find classes happening at health clubs, colleges, or adult educational centers, or if you see a group session at a park don’t be afraid to ask if you can join. Until you are more experienced with tai chi, taking a class can help you along your way to better mobility, balance, and strength.

 

Make sure to consult your primary care physician or chiropractor for all health related advice.

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Image: Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Steve Hardy

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