Tai Chi: Where Seniors Need to Be

We are all looking for creative ways to get an edge, but one of the best ways to sharpen our mind and body is being a part of a tai chi class. 

The ancient Chinese martial art is a graceful way to practice defense training while improving our health and meditation.  The beauty of it, there are no age limits or restrictions.

Many studies have shown that Tai Chi improves muscular strength, flexibility and fitness. According to the Tai Chi for Health Institute, muscle strength is vital for supporting and protecting joints and is essential for normal physical function.  Muscle joints weaken and range of motion seems to deteriorate as we age.  Improving flexibility increases blood flow and helps older Americans with their daily movements while extending quality of life. Fitness and exercise is vital to prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke and osteoporosis.

Why tai chi is good for older Americans?

Tai Chi is a low impact exercise for all ages.  It is especially appealing to older adults because it puts minimal stress on muscles and joints.  Additionally, Tai Chi can be attempted inside or out at most any location and it is inexpensive without equipment to purchase. Even though tai chi is generally safe for those who have had chronic pain, back pain, joint problems, it is a good idea to check with a physician.

Why try tai chi?

According to the Mayo Clinic, when practiced and performed regularly, tai chi can be a positive part of an overall approach to improving health. Some of the benefits tai chi may provide will:

  • Decrease stress, anxiety and depression
  • Improve mood
  • Improve aerobic capacity
  • Increase energy and stamina
  • Improve flexibility, balance and agility
  • Improve muscle strength and definition

Additional research is needed to determine the health benefits of tai chi. Some evidence indicates that tai chi may also help should:

  • Enhance quality of sleep
  • Enhance the immune system
  • Help lower blood pressure
  • Improve joint pain
  • Improve symptoms of congestive heart failure
  • Improve overall well-being
  • Reduce risk of falls in older adults

As we age, our balance seems to get a little suspect at times. An encouraging article by Medical News Today highlighted several studies where thousands of seniors participated and they showed tai chi prevented trips and falls in older Americans.  Also, the report detailed a 2012 trial where 195 older adults with Parkinson's Disease showed tai chi helped improve their balance with greater success than regular stretching and resistance training.

There is no question that tai chi offers many tranquil and peaceful benefits that go a long way helping the psychological well being of senior citizens. There are many substantive studies that show potential benefits for cognitive ability, but more evidence is needed for the mental health benefits of tai chi.

If you decide that Tai chi is for you, it pays dividends if you commit to a long term plan.  With time being precious for some people, just taking a few minutes of tai chi when you have a break can go long way helping you manage stress and anxiety.


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