Have you ever participated in the graceful, fluid movements of tai chi? If you have, then you are one of 2.3 million Americans that practice this ancient martial art. Tai chi is an ancient Chinese form of exercise that was initially practiced as a form of self-defense. All the different types of tai chi involve relaxed and flowing movements of a person’s legs, arms and torso. Tai chi is a low-intensity exercise that puts minimal stress on muscles and joints. This aspect makes it particularly fitting for seniors.
Research has proven that tai chi decreases the risk of falling for seniors, and joint pain; furthermore, tai chi increases the immune system. A 2011 study of chronic heart failure discovered that tai chi improves a person’s overall happiness and daily activity.
There is a problem with the elderly and falls. Tai Chi can help with this. The benefits of tai chi include improvements in balance, flexibility and strength.
Balance and Flexibility
As a person ages, their balance and flexibility slowly decreases. More so, joint pain can cause a person to feel unsteady on his/her feet. Poor balance increases the chance of fall that can lead to fractures. Tai chi improves balance and flexibility. The Oregon Research Institute conducted a study on tai chi’s effect of balance and found that study participants had fewer falls, and improved balance after six months of tai chi.
Tai Chi is a low impact exercise, but the arm and leg positions strengthen a person’s musculoskeletal system over time. Muscle strengthening is a crucial part of exercise plan for seniors. It can decrease the risk for osteoporosis. Additionally, strong muscles support better balance, improve posture and well as breathing.
Many senior or community facilities offer Tai Chi classes or you can sign up at other exercise centers. No equipment is needed, just comfortable loose-fitting clothing.
For those who are not inclined to leave the homes, there is the option of zoom or purchasing videos on Amazon
Even though tai chi is safe for all ages, check with your health care provider before starting. For seniors, it is best to begin with a tai chi instructor found at local gyms, and senior center.
Roth, Erica, and Demand Media. “Tai Chi Benefits for Seniors.” Healthy Living. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 July 2014.