Tai chi is an ancient Chinese form of meditative exercise. It is a slow exercise which combines deep breathing and relaxation with gentle movements. It was originally developed as a martial art in 13th-century China and has now gained a large following around the world due to its health-promoting benefits.
1. Muscle Strength
Although tai chi is a gentle exercise, the precise movements help to build up muscle strength in the legs and upper body. While you are not working with weights, the unsupported exercises build strength. Muscle strength is an important focus for those in their later years to keep you feeling energised in everyday life and to ensure mobility for years to come. Tai chi does not require any equipment and is easy to practice at home or out and about.
While strength is important, you need to support this with an improvement in flexibility. Tight muscles hinder your mobility and can cause aches and pains. As we get older, it’s essential to try to remain supple for overall fitness and wellness. Tai chi aids flexibility with moves that warm up your muscles and stretch them. This will keep you active into your later years.
Balance is something that many of us forget to work on. We may be clumsy or prone to falls and just resign ourselves to the fact that there is nothing we can do about it. Tai chi improves balance and, according to some studies, reduces falls. The ability to sense the position of your body in space declines with age. Tai chi helps train this sense and is an exercise that is of fantastic benefit to those over 60.
4. Reduces Arthritic Pain
Studies have shown that the muscle strengthening and stretching involved in tai chi can considerably reduce pain and improve the mood and of people with arthritis. By practicing the exercises a few times a week, the physical functionality and way of life of those suffering with the disease can be improved upon significantly.
5. Lowers Blood Pressure
Many of us suffer from high blood pressure and choose to treat it with medicine. This is not a long term solution and there are many things you can to do help to reduce blood pressure naturally. Research has shown that tai chi can stave off high blood pressure. While this a slow and gentle exercise, it still has many benefits that we receive from more intense activities. This makes it a perfect exercise for those who do not feel up to more intense activities in their later years.
6. Increases Mental Activity
Studies have shown that practicing tai chi three times a week can boost brain volume and improve memory and thinking. As the exercise increases mental activity, scientists believe it may be possible to delay the onset of Alzheimer's in seniors.
7. Reduces Stress
Stress has a very negative effect on your health so it’s important to find something that helps you to relax. Frequent exercise helps you to relax and relieve tension. Taking just 30-60 minutes out of your day to focus on exercise allows your mind to drift from worry. Tai chi is a meditative exercise which focuses on deep breathing and awareness of your body and movement. This enhances feelings of calmness and tranquility.
Tai chi is becoming increasingly popular amongst the older generation. The health benefits of this exercise benefit everyone, but particularly combat issues which are common in over 60s. You do not have to be fit to start tai chi; in fact it is suited to people of all levels of fitness. It’s a good idea to watch a class or attend a free taster session before signing up for a course. You can consider using a book or DVD once you’re familiar with the poses. Find a tai chi instructor in your area. Try searching the web for classes in your local area or ask at your local fitness or community center.