Health

Health Benefits of Tai Chi

Tai chi, also called tai chi chuan, is an internal Chinese martial art, a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching. To do tai chi, you perform a series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner. Tai chi has many different styles, such as yang and wu. Some may focus on health maintenance, while others focus on the martial arts aspect of tai chi.

Today majority of health studies have displayed a tangible benefit in some areas to the practice of tai chi, health professionals have called for more in-depth studies to determine factors such as the most beneficial style, suggested duration of practice to show the best results, and whether tai chi is as effective as other forms of exercise.

Researchers have found that intensive tai chi practice shows some favorable effects on the promotion of balance control, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, and has shown to reduce the risk of falls in both healthy elderly patients, and those recovering from chronic stroke, heart failure, high blood pressure, heart attacks, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and fibromyalgia. Tai chi’s gentle, low impact movements burn more calories than surfing and nearly as many as downhill skiing.

Researchers found that tai chi showed the ability to greatly reduce pain and improve overall physical and mental health in people over 60 with severe osteoarthritis of the knee and may also reduce the severity of diabetes.

U.S. government funded a systematic review and meta-analysis on the effects of practicing tai chi found that, “Twenty-one of 33 randomized and nonrandomized trials reported that 1 hour to 1 year of regular tai chi significantly increased psychological well-being including reduction of stress, anxiety, and depression, and enhanced mood in community-dwelling healthy participants and in patients with chronic conditions (2010). Seven observational studies with relatively large sample sizes reinforced the beneficial association between tai chi practice and psychological health.

In one study, tai chi has also been shown to reduce the symptoms of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in 13 adolescents. There have also been indications that tai chi might have some effect on noradrenaline and cortisol production with an effect on mood and heart rate. However, the effect may be no different than those derived from other types of physical exercise.

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