Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese exercise which uses slow meditative movements and deep controlled breathing. It is designed to stimulate the body’s energy systems and bring relaxation, coordination, balance, and physical and mental well-being.
Often referred to as the meditation in motion, tai chi is practiced in many places around the world today. Many people adopt this gentle exercise not only for its ability to enhance a person’s mind-body coordination but because it is an exercise that even the aged and those recovering from illnesses can perform.
Here are some of the health benefits of tai chi:
1. It helps to improve muscle strength.
According to a Japanese study, older adults who took a 12-week tai chi exercises improved the strength of their lower body by 30 percent and the strength of their arms increased by 25 percent. This increase in muscle strength is equivalent to the improvement gained from resistance training.
Tai Chi exercises do not involve the use of weights or resistance bands. However, it has the ability to strengthen your upper extremities and the core muscles of your lower body.
2. It helps to promote flexibility.
Aside from improving your upper and lower body strength, it is also able to make your body flexible.
3. It helps to improve balance.
A person’s ability to sense his position in space declines with age. Therefore, your sense of balance decreases as you get older. Tai Chi helps to maintain the normal function of the cochlea, a part of the inner ear that controls your sense of balance.
4. It helps to provide aerobic conditioning.
Although most of the tai chi exercises are light and gentle, it has certain moves that require speed. These can provide aerobic benefits. However, their aerobic effects are not as big as the effects of brisk walking.
5. It helps to improve mood.
6. It helps to reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis.
A study conducted by Tufts University in Massachusetts shows that an hour of tai chi twice a week for 12 weeks helps to reduce pain caused by knee osteoarthritis.
7. It may help to maintain the bone density of post menopausal women. A study to prove this is still under way at the Osher Research Center in Boston, Massachusetts.
8. It helps to improve the quality of life of people who are suffering from breast cancer. It also aids in improving their physical capability to perform daily tasks.
9. It helps to lower cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin levels of the body. This can translate to a reduced risk of high blood pressure, strokes, and heart diseases.
10. It helps to improve the quality and duration of sleep in older people.