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How Tai Chi can benefit your health

Looking to get fitter without stressing out about it? Ever heard of Tai chi?

Tai chi, a mind-body exercise rooted in multiple Asian traditions including martial arts, traditional Chinese medicine and philosophy, has become widely recognized as a gentle form of fitness that packs a serious health-promoting punch. With benefits that include better balance, enhanced immunity and improved cognition, it’s also popular with the senior set, thanks to its accessibility and effectiveness.

What Exactly Is Tai Chi?

Generally, tai chi is an ideal mind-body practice combined with basic athletic training. The physical part is derived from a series of slow martial arts movements while the mindful aspect aligns with the go-with-the-flow aspects of Taoism. Together, you have a series of focused exercises that can be done in repetition or linked together in what is known as a tai chi form.

Similar to yoga, there are many styles of tai chi. Some are more vigorous and some are more serene, but the principles are ubiquitous. Across all tai chi exercises and forms, the posture is the same, the breathing is the same, the relaxation is the same, the whole-body coordination is the same. All the moves forbid the use of strength, and yet, when people practice tai chi, they gain strength.

Health Benefits of Tai Chi

The research backing up the benefits of practicing tai chi is so extensive that there’s no way to fit it all in this article.

When people practice tai chi, they develop basic athletic qualities like balance, power and strength, stamina, aerobic capacity, agility, flexibility, speed, accuracy and proprioception.

Furthermore, Tai chi is also clinically proven to be effective as rehabilitation for people with cardiopulmonary conditions and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It can significantly reduce chronic pain for conditions like fibromyalgia and can improve neurological function for people with Parkinson’s disease. It’s also beneficial as physical therapy and pain management for osteoarthritis, encouraging joints to become more flexible and useful as they may have been at a younger age.

Besides, Tai chi provides mental benefits too, which include improved cognition, mood and focus, as well as decreased stress, anxiety and depression. Enhanced sleep quality is another boon.

Additionally, it is found practicing tai chi was even more effective than regular walking and strength training when it comes to reducing belly fat. This benefit is important because “central obesity” carries with it a higher mortality risk—especially for post-menopausal women—even for people whose body mass index (BMI) is in an otherwise normal range.


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