Tai Chi is an extremely interesting and enjoyable art form. Even better, it’s easy to practice. The requirements for equipment and space are absolutely minimal and the exercises can be practiced almost anywhere. Most importantly, the benefits of Tai Chi are immediately apparent to anyone who participates in it.
1. It Isn’t Just A Fad
Unlike so many exercises, Tai Chi isn’t a new fad that will disappear just as quickly as it arrived. It has existed and been practiced in China for over a thousand years.
2. It’s For All Ages
Tai Chi is a gentle art. So much so that people of almost any age or physical condition can undertake it. In fact, many prominent teachers began their careers teaching Tai Chi late in life.
3. Strength and Endurance
Tai Chi has proven to be an exercise with significant benefits in the areas of balance, upper- and lower-body muscular strength and endurance, and upper- and lower-body flexibility, particularly in older adults. In one such study, people in their 60s and 70s practiced Tai Chi three times a week for 12 weeks. They also undertook a myriad of physical fitness tests to measure balance, muscular strength, endurance, and flexibility before and after the 12 weeks. After just six weeks, statistically significant improvements were observed in balance, muscular strength, endurance, and flexibility measures. Improvements in each of these areas increased further after 12 weeks.
The focus on proper breathing techniques makes Tai Chi incredibly beneficial for sufferers of asthma.
Fibromyalgia is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders and is associated with high levels of impaired health and incredibly painful symptoms. The cause of fibromylagia (FM) is unknown, and there is no known cure. In a study of 39 subjects with FM who practiced Tai Chi bi-weekly for six weeks, it was found that FM symptoms and health-related quality of life improved after the study. This could be good news for many other individuals who suffer from this disorder.
6. Aerobic Capacity
Aerobic capacity diminishes as we age, but research on traditional forms of aerobic exercises has shown that it can improve with regular training. In another meta-analytic study, researchers looked at seven studies focusing on the effects of Tai Chi on aerobic capacity in adults with an average age of 55 years. The investigators found that individuals who practiced Tai Chi regularly for a year had higher aerobic capacity than sedentary individuals around the same age.
7. Stress Relief
The breathing, movement, and mental concentration required of individuals who practice Tai Chi are the perfect distraction from their hectic lifestyles. The mind-body connection is also important here, as it has been reported that breathing combined with body movement and hand-eye coordination promotes calmness.
Walking speed decreases with age and research suggests that it may be associated with an increased risk of falling. In one study, however, it was found that individuals who practiced Tai Chi walked significantly more steps than individuals who did not.
9. Joint Health
Many forms of ordinary exercise subject the shoulders, knees, the back and other joints to ill-conceived, repetitive, unnatural movements. As such, a great number of active people eventually develop joint problems. However, classical Tai Chi, through the experience of multiple generations of practitioners who practiced from a young age until the end of life, fully grasps the importance of proper postures and movements to protect and strengthen the practitioner’s joints for long-term, repetitive practice.
10. Internal Organ Health
Tai Chi’s fluid spiraling and bending movements, as well as its breathing and meditation components, massage the internal organs and release them from damaging constrictions brought about by stress, poor posture, and difficult working conditions. It also aids the exchange of gases in the lungs and help the digestive system to work better.
Featured photo credit: Tai Chi via akoxix.files.wordpress.com