Advertisement

learn tai chi

5 Reasons to Learn Tai Chi

It’s never too late to learn this ancient discipline—and to enhance both your physical and mental health in the process.

By Megan Othersen Gorman


5 Reasons to Learn Tai Chi

Tai chi's relaxing movements are easy on the body but powerful for your health.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—The ancient art of tai chi—a form of exercise that combines slow, deliberate movements with meditation and deep breathing to connect and uplift both the body and the mind—is receiving new interest from a wealth of sources, the Western medical establishment included. In fact, a new study performed by researchers at Tufts University Medical School in Boston found that just two hours of tai chi a week for three months significantly reduced pain and improved both knee function and mental health (reducing depression and anxiety) in people with osteoarthritis of the knee.

THE DETAILS: This study comes on the heels of a host of others that have shown that people who learn tai chi gain improvements in strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance; it reduces pain; and it eases depression and anxiety in people with chronic diseases such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and diabetes—all through a series of slow, deceptively simple movements.

"While not physically difficult, tai chi engages all the tissues of the body, the bones, the tendons, every joint," says Bruce McFarlane, MD, a family practitioner in Ontario, Canada, a medical advisor to the Taoist Tai Chi Society of Canada, and the medical director of their health recovery program, through which people with a great variety of medical difficulties seek therapy through tai chi. "The movements are new to us in our culture, so there is a focus on acquiring a new physical skill that involves the mind and distracts us from our usual worries. It's graceful, slow-moving, and quite relaxing." And it works.

WHAT IT MEANS: A form of exercise that's relaxing, easy on the body, and has documented health benefits? What's not to like? Tai chi classes usually last about an hour, during which you'll perform anywhere from 20 to 100 tai chi movements. The teacher encourages students to perform the movements slowly, in a meditative manner, and to breathe deeply as they move. It's this combination, says Dr. McFarlane, who practices the Taoist form of tai chi, which is focused strictly on health improvement, that creates feelings of relaxation and mastery that are empowering and health-promoting.

Here are five further reasons to give tai chi a try:

#1: It’s for everyone. "I would recommend it to young and old, to people who are physically active and to the sedentary, to people in good health and those dealing with chronic illness—to everyone, literally," says Dr. McFarlane. "Physical activity and stress reduction are important to everyone, and those are the very benefits afforded by tai chi without the risk of injury carried by many other physical pursuits."

#2: It’s inexpensive. Tai chi doesn’t require any additional equipment or a special venue, just comfortable shoes and clothing, assures Dr. McFarlane. Taoist Society instructors, accredited by the society and required to maintain their accreditation yearly, are unpaid (the Taoist Society itself is a nonprofit organization). To learn more about the Taoist Society and find a chapter and classes near you, go to www.taoist.org. You can also find inexpensive classes at hospitals and communities; other groups that certify teachers include the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi and the American Tai Chi and Qigong Association.

Published on: November 23, 2009
Updated on: January 20, 2012



More from our Authors

Put the Healing Power of Yoga to work for You. 231 Poses and 42 sequences for total mind/body bliss!

Tai Chi

Do you have any information on where an older man with little money can join a Tai Chi group? I live in Dallas, Texas in ZIP 75247. Thank you. Royce Williams

VIDEOS

FREE DOWNLOAD!
Download a FREE chapter from The Exercise Cure and learn how to get your daily dose of the world's most effective preventive medicine. Click here for your FREE copy!





Advertisement
Free Newsletter
Sign up for the FREE daily newsletter and get useful tips to keep yourself, your family, and the planet healthy and thriving.

  The Daily Fix
Authoritative reporting on the latest developments in health, food, and the environment

  Maria's Farm Country Kitchen Newsletter
Get cooking tips, learn about healthy living and even raising chickens—Maria does it all!



Your Privacy Policy

BE SOCIAL WITH US!