Practicing tai chi can help ease some physical ailments
An ancient Chinese exercise has become a mainstream complimentary approach to enhance medical care and therapy around the world. Tai Chi began as a form of martial arts and has been practiced in China since the 12th century.
As a movement therapy, Tai Chi is well suited for a number of medical and health related conditions:
• Problems with balance and movement. Tai Chi help reduce falls in older adults
• High blood pressure
• Problems related to flexibility and muscle strength
• Cardiovascular problems
• Chronic fatigue
• Mental health issues including stress, depression and anxiety
• Sleep problems
• Reduced stamina and resilience
Tai Chi exercise members usually begin with a warm-up to stretch and improve circulation.
They then gradually move through exercises designed to help them shift weight through a series of controlled movements that flow together into one long, graceful activity. The exercises take the participants through a calming and peaceful repertoire of movement, sometimes described as “mediation in motion”, that results in enhanced feelings of relaxation, stress reduction, self-esteem enhancement and social participation. It is the calming, meditative aspect of Tai Chi that makes it particularly useful for reducing stress and anxiety.
Individuals practicing Tai Chi focus on balance and proper breathing, two things many older adults have difficulty with.
Tai Chi is a complementary approach to enhance, not replace medical care and therapy. Participants are encouraged to adopt Tai Chi as part of their regular exercise routine and continue to participate in the program on an ongoing basis in order to maximize the benefits associated with the program. Group exercise classes can provide the element of social connectedness which is very valuable in maintaining health of older adults.
People who have been sedentary, have a history of cardiovascular problems, or suffer from impairment in joint function or muscle strength may need to consult with their physician before beginning an exercise program.
Physical fitness is important for wellness and healthy aging. Many people enjoy exercise routines which include several different forms of exercise such as walking, bicycling, strength building and Tai Chi.
To find a class in Tai Chi consult local health clubs, colleges and university departments of health, human performance and recreation and the internet. A certified instructor in this excellent form of exercise is often recommended to insure that proper knowledge and experience is available to participants, especially older adults.
Give this ancient art a try. You may be very pleased with the results.
Harold H. Lecrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright © 2011