Not only can the gentle and flowing movements of Tai Chi help you find physical and mental balance, they also provide a variety of health benefits, according to oriental medicine expert Tim Sobo of the Cleveland Clinic in the US.
Tai Chi involves performing a series of gentle, low-impact movements. The focus is on deep and slow breathing. Because, according to Sobo, the exercises can help harmonize the body’s energy and the mind, Tai Chi is often referred to as moving meditation.
Tai Chi in traditional Chinese medicine
The so-called traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been using Tai Chi for centuries. The focus is on activating and balancing the body’s energy because the body is believed to function best when it is in balance, Sobo reports.
With Tai Chi you try to let the movements flow into one another. According to the expert, the slow, targeted movements of Tai Chi require strength and coordination at the same time and represent a challenge for all fitness levels.
“You move your whole body as a unit. And because you need strength and balance, Tai Chi is good for the muscles and bones,” explains the expert in a press release.
Tai Chi is so healthy
In fact, Tai Chi improves many aspects of health. There is evidence that Tai Chi promotes general muscle strength and joint health. Thai Chi can also improve mobility, balance and coordination.
Tai Chi also conveys a feeling of calm and serenity, which is beneficial for the psyche. For example, a study has shown that Tai Chi significantly reduces anxiety after just twelve weeks of training. The effect is attributed to increased mindfulness.
“The practice of mindfulness is a great stress reliever. The Tai Chi movements require you to focus on breathing and movement so that you focus on what you are doing and not on everything else that is going on in life,” explains Sobo.
Tai Chi can also protect against falls, which can even be fatal, especially in old age. A review of ten studies showed that practicing Tai Chi is associated with up to 50 percent fewer falls compared to people who do not practice Tai Chi. Tai Chi can reduce the risk of falls, especially in people with Parkinson’s.
Beneficial for the brain
As you get older, it becomes increasingly difficult to switch from one task to another. However, doing Tai Chi for 12 weeks can improve the ability to switch between tasks, Sobo reports, citing another study. In addition, Tai Chi also increases activity in the prefrontal cortex.
In addition, further research has shown that older people with memory problems can significantly improve their memory by practicing Tai Chi three times a week over a period of six months.
Can relieve depression
Combining tai chi with medication can also reduce symptoms of depression, says Sobo. A study has shown that two hours of Tai Chi per week together with the medication escitalopram significantly reduces symptoms in the treatment of severe depression.
Thai Chi can also provide relief from fibromyalgia, a condition that causes pain throughout the body. One study compared the effects of tai chi on fibromyalgia to those of aerobic exercise, and tai chi was better at relieving the symptoms of fibromyalgia, Sobo said.
Helps with osteoarthritis
Weekly Tai Chi exercises could also relieve pain in the knees if you have osteoarthritis. This relief is so effective that the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and the Arthritis Foundation recommend practicing Tai Chi to treat osteoarthritis pain.
Inexpensive and easy to do
Practicing Tai Chi does not require any special equipment or expertise. It is enough to watch videos with instructions, which means that Tai Chi costs little or can even be completely free, explains the expert.
Unlike yoga, Tai Chi does not require the same flexibility. In addition, Tai Chi is not as strenuous as other sports, which is gentle on the joints and muscles. Another advantage of Tai Chi is that your own fitness level does not play a role in how it is carried out.
Suitable for almost everyone
Tai Chi is actually suitable for people of almost all ages due to its low level of effort. Nevertheless, you should seek medical examination and advice beforehand. However, people affected by heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can also practice Tai Chi safely, according to Sobo.
How do you start with Tai Chi?
If a medical examination has not revealed any possible problems with performing Tai Chi, you can begin practicing it – either with the help of instructional videos or by attending a Tai Chi course.
Many people can easily practice Tai Chi for 20 minutes every day. Since it’s not strength training or endurance training, the body doesn’t need a day to regenerate, explains Sobo.
Perfecting life with Tai Chi
“Think of Tai Chi as a form of dance. You can learn the dance steps in a few days, but you can spend a lifetime mastering the dance. Once you learn the Tai Chi movements, try to do them better every day. You will learn to perform them more smoothly and go deeper into them,” Sobo adds. (as)