Exercise is a critical component of any wellness program, but for those who are aged or disabled, many types of vigorous physical exercise are difficult, if not impossible, to perform. For such individuals, the ancient Chinese practice of tai chi may be an ideal solution. Tai chi is not only safer for more fragile individuals to perform; it also has positive health benefits, particularly for older adults.
Tai Chi is a practice that combines stretching movements with focused breathing and mindfulness. Much like yoga, tai chi emphasizes the mind-body connection. Practitioners of tai chi can reap both physical and psychological benefits.
In reviewing some of the research on tai chi, we’ve found that it certainly meets the goals of most exercise programs: improved strength, balance, flexibility, and aerobic conditioning. But tai chi has also been found to have other specific health benefits, such as:
Treatment of such conditions as low bone density, breast cancer, arthritis, hypertension, heart problems, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and sleep disorders. For example, patients with Parkinson’s disease or balance problems have greatly improved balance after practicing tai chi and suffer fewer falls. And its cardiovascular benefits are similar to vigorous jogging or downhill skiing.
Enhancement of concentration and other cognitive skills.
Reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression.
All these benefits are achieved without impact on the joints or the higher risk of injury associated with many workout programs.
We are fortunate to live in a part of country that has embraced nontraditional exercise and wellness programs, and tai chi classes are plentiful in the greater Bay area. In just a cursory Google search, we found these sample classes being offered right now:
The Longevity Center in San Jose will offer weekly classes, beginning March 4, for a six month period.
The Parks and Recreation Dept. in San Mateo offers regular tai chi classes to the public.
The Taijiquan Tutelage of Palo Alto, which was established over 40 years ago, offers regular classes in the ancient practice.
The list could be much, much longer, but the point is that it’s not difficult to find a tai chi class almost anywhere in the Homecare California service area. Additionally, there are numerous YouTube videos available for those who want to practice at home.
If you or a loved one need a low-impact, high-benefit exercise regimen, consider tai chi as an enjoyable and soothing part of your wellness program.