Use Tai Chi to Increase Your Health and Well-Being

A multi-ethnic group of senior adults are taking a tai chi fitness class. They are practicing their martial art inside of a brightly lit studio. Here, a woman of asian ethnicity is leading the class through movements.


If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to exercise more, but you already find yourself not fulfilling that goal because it’s painful or seems like too much work, consider an exercise than is gaining popularity, especially among older adults – tai chi.

Tai chi, a Chinese martial art, uses slow-moving movements which, when practiced over time, can improve balance, agility, coordination, strength and stamina. What makes tai chi such a great exercise for older adults is that it is a low-impact exercise that is easy on the joints, can be performed almost anywhere and requires no expensive equipment. It can be adapted for those recovering from surgery, people in wheelchairs, or those living with a chronic condition, such as arthritis or heart disease.

Here are just some of the ways tai chi can help improve your health and well-being.

It makes you more physically fit

An article published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that tai chi helped those living with osteoarthritis, COPD and heart failure show improvement in four areas: a six-minute walking test, muscle strength, the time it takes to get up and move, and quality of life. The best part? These results were accomplished without any pain while performing the exercises.

It reduces pain

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people living with fibromyalgia who participated in tai chi classes twice a week for 12 weeks reported less pain than the control group, who participated in stretching sessions and wellness education twice a week.

It reduces stress

In addition to being a physical exercise, tai chi is also a meditative practice, which helps calm the mind, a leading factor in reducing stress. It is often call “meditation in motion.”

It decreases fall risk

In a study published by the Journal of Gerontology, older adults who practiced six months of tai chi decreased their frequency of falls by 55 percent compared to a group who simply performed stretching exercises.

It eases depression

Researchers from the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences confirmed that tai chi can be effective in fighting depression in older adults. For some seniors, tai chi might even offer benefits to rival prescription antidepressant drugs, which can cause negative side effects or undesirable interactions with the other medicines a senior takes.

It can increase your quality of life

A research project from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston found that tai chi not only improves the mood of patients who are living with chronic heart failure, but also encourages them to be more active. Confirming the results of the UCLA researchers, the Beth Israel Deaconess team discovered that patients who participated in tai chi experienced an improvement in mood and quality of life. They also discovered that the patients were more motivated and confident during their prescribed walking regimen.

You can practice tai chi at home with a DVD or join one of the many classes available throughout the Boston area. Of course, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen.

Categories: Senior Health