Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that dates back over 2,500 years. It has been practiced for generations and has been adapted for an assortment of purposes. It descended from qigong which is a praxis that connects the mind, breath and motion to create a peaceful balance. You may have seen a group of slow-moving people doing a synchronized routine in the park or at your local gym space. They are practicing their deliberate, repetitive and low impact movements in a meditative state which fosters coordination and relaxation. Meditation in motion, tai chi can bring peace and serenity to your daily wellness routine.
Benefits of Tai Chi
Tai chi offers many health benefits including helping people with heart failure, osteoarthritis, breast cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease according to a study conducted at the University of Toronto, Canada. Other benefits include:
- Better cognitive function and memory
- Improved balance and immune function
- Increased strength in muscles of legs and core
- Increased stability in ankles
- Increased flexibility
- Reduced back pain
- Minimize the risk of fall
- More energized
- Decreased stress, depression and anxiety
Tai Chi for Seniors
Tai chi movements are slow, gentle and low impact, which makes them appropriate as an exercise for seniors. Tai chi increases flexibility, strength and endurance without aggravation on existing injuries or impairments. Similar to swimming and yoga, tai chi is soft on the joints with minimal cardio, so it is accessible for elderly people who want to exercise without fear of pain or soreness. Tai chi is beneficial physically as well as mentally, by performing the deep breathing and meditative stances, tai chi will decrease mental illness symptoms and bring more peace and energy to your daily life. In addition, joining a tai chi group and socializing and bonding with others over a shared interest can increase self-esteem, confidence and decrease isolation and loneliness.
To get started, contact your local gym or community center for information about the classes available, or if you are homebound there are DVDs for purchase to follow along. Ensure that you discuss adding any new fitness routine with your doctor to clarify how to perform the movements safely with your own body and its unique challenges.
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