Tai chi, an ancient Chinese is an art which embraces the human mind, body and spirit, and is a beneficial exercise for both the body and the mind.
Even though tai chi is an art that has skills and depth of knowledge, it is very easy to learn and implement it in daily life.
While there are different forms of tai chi, major ones include Yan, Sun, Wu, Chen, and Wu (spelled differently in Chinese). Each tai chi style has distinct features, but all of them have the same principles.
The main guiding principles of tai chi include the integration of mind with body, control of breathing, and movement in a way that generates internal energy, mindfulness, jing (serenity), and song (loosening).
Tai chi’s purpose is to cultivate “qi” or the life energy and help it move smoothly and powerfully.
Although Tai Chi is suitable for everyone, it is more suitable for seniors. They can do tai chi even if they are suffering from chronic conditions.
Some of the benefits of Tai Chi, especially on seniors, are:
1. Improves Overall HealthRegular practice of tai chi not only provides psychosocial and physiological benefits, but it also improves flexibility, strength, cardiovascular and respiratory system.
A study has shown that older women who underwent a tai chi program for 12 weeks had improved arthritic symptoms, physical function, and balance.
2. Reduces StressBetter management of stress and anxiety is one of the most significant benefits of tai chi.
Studies had shown that tai chi provided the same benefits when it came to stress and anxiety management as regular exercise would.
In fact, experts believe that with its stress on focused breathing and medication, it can be superior to all other exercises that help in addressing stress and anxiety.
3. Improves MoodRegular practice of tai chi has been found in improving the mood, especially if you are anxious or depressed.
Tai chi experts believe that slow, mindful breaths have a positive effect on the nervous system and the hormones which regulate our mood. That said, further research is needed to establish a better link between these two.
4. Improves Cognitive FunctioningCognitive decline is widespread in the US, with some statistics showing nearly 40% of American elders suffering from some type of cognitive impairment.
Various researches have proved that tai chi is very beneficial to cognitively impaired seniors. Tai chi helps in improving memory and global cognitive functions, more specifically verbal working memory.
This was confirmed by a meta-analysis conducted in 2013. Based on the ample evidence in this area, researchers are recommending tai chi to seniors for improving their cognitive functioning.
5. Improvement in COPD SymptomsTai chi experts believe that regular practice of tai chi can help in better management of COPD symptoms.
A study showed that a 12-week program of tai chi was very beneficial for people suffering from COPD. They were able to exercise more efficiently and had a better quality of life.
6. Improved Cardiovascular FitnessStudies have shown that practicing tai chi is very beneficial for cardiovascular health in seniors. It has been shown to impact its practitioners’ heart efficiency positively.
Tai chi is known to reduce the resting heart rate and blood pressure, enhance stroke outcome as well as cardiac output. It also positively impacts respiratory functions.
7. Decreased Fall RiskThe risk of falling is a major concern among older adults.
A 2018 study has shown that tai chi significantly decreases the risk of falling by improving motor and balance functions.
Eight weeks of tai chi practice helps in reducing the risk of actual fall, and practicing it for 16 weeks significantly decreased the falls.
Since falls can impact the quality of life, reduced falls help in improving the quality of life among seniors.
8. Improves Fibromyalgia SymptomsTai chi can act as a complement to fibromyalgia treatments.
A 2018 study showed that people who practiced tai chi consistently had decreased fibromyalgia symptoms. Participants who did tai chi for a year showed improvement in their fibromyalgia compared to those who did aerobics.
9. Promotes Weight LossPracticing Tai chi regularly has shown to result in weight loss.
Studies have shown that seniors who practiced tai chi for 12 weeks, 45 minutes a day, five days a week, lost nearly a pound without making any significant lifestyle changes.
10. Reduces Arthritic PainStudies have shown that regularly practicing tai chi helps in improving the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and knee osteoarthritis.
Practicing tai chi for 12 weeks has shown to not only reduce the arthritic pain but also provide better mobility. This has helped in improving the quality of life.
11. Improved Sleep QualityResearches conducted a controlled randomized trial in 2016 to evaluate the benefits of tai chi qigong (TCQ) on sleep quality (night time).
The trial showed that practicing tai chi qigong helped the participants to benefit from improved sleep quality.
The participants reported increased sleep duration, better sleep efficiency, and better mental health component of sleep.
Suffice to say, TCQ is one the best non-medicinal approach in improving the night-time sleep quality in seniors suffering from cognitive issues.
12. Promotes LongevityTai Chi is one of the most common exercises in Chinese adults. It is also becoming the most popular mind-body practice in the US.
Researchers have determined that just like one benefits from reduced mortality while doing exercises like jogging and walking, tai chi is also said to promote longevity by positively impacting all the vital organs of the body.
It also has been shown to impact DNA positively. Those who performed tai chi consistently were said to benefit the most from it.
In ConclusionTai chi is an exercise that not only helps in enriching Chi which strengthens the body, removes diseases but also provides peace of mind to all those who practice it.
Tai chi should be treated as a complement to all the treatments that you are taking for your medical conditions. If you feel anything wrong or out of place, contact your doctor immediately.