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8 Ways Tai Chi Can Improve Your Health

by Michael Teh

Tai Chi, by now, should not be something we are all unfamiliar of, but what is tai chi? Well, tai chi is a form of exercise that began as a Chinese tradition where it is based in martial arts and involves slow movements and deep breaths. That said, tai chi has many physical and emotional benefits – which include decreasing anxiety and depression as well as improvement in cognitions. Read on to find out the 8 ways tai chi can improve your health.

“In a 2018 study, it compared the effects of tai chi on stress-related anxiety to traditional exercises where researchers found that tai chi does provide the same benefits to manage stress-related anxiety as exercise. And because tai chi also includes meditation and focussed breathing, they found that tai chi may be superior to other exercises to reduce stress and anxiety. “

Tai Chi, by now, should not be something we are all unfamiliar of, but what is tai chi? Well, tai chi is a form of exercise that began as a Chinese tradition where it is based in martial arts and involves slow movements and deep breaths.

That said, tai chi has many physical and emotional benefits – which include decreasing anxiety and depression as well as improvement in cognitions. Here are 8 ways tai chi can improve your health.

1. Reduce stress

One of the main benefits of tai chi to your health is its ability to lower stress and anxiety. In a 2018 study, it compared the effects of tai chi on stress-related anxiety to traditional exercises where researchers found that tai chi does provide the same benefits to manage stress-related anxiety as exercise. And because tai chi also includes meditation and focussed breathing, they found that tai chi may be superior to other exercises to reduce stress and anxiety.

In addition, tai chi is very accessible and has lower impact than many other forms of exercises. It is rather safe and inexpensive, so it would be a good option if you are otherwise healthy and experiencing stress-related anxiety.

2. Improves mood

Tai chi can help improve your mood if you are either depressed or anxious. It is believed that the slow, mindful breaths and movement have a positive effect on the nervous system and mood-regulating hormones.

3. Better sleep

Practicing tai chi regularly can help you have more restful sleep. In one study that followed young adults with anxiety where they were prescribed two tai chi classes for 10 weeks showed they experienced significant improvement in sleep quality as compared to those who did not practice tai chi. Additionally, the group who practiced tai chi had experienced a decrease in their anxiety symptoms.

4. Promote weight loss

Practicing tai chi on a regular basis can result in weight loss. A study tracked changes in weight in a group of adults who practiced tai chi five times a week for 45 minutes. At the end of week 12, the adults lost over a pound without having to make additional lifestyle changes.

5. Improves cognition and reduces risk of falling in older adults

Tai chi may improve cognition in older adults who suffers from cognitive impairment. Tai chi helps to improve memory and executive functioning skills like paying attention and carrying out complex tasks.

At the same time, tai chi can help improve balance and motor function, and to reduce fear of falling in older adults. It can also reduce actual falls after 8 weeks of practice and significantly reduce falls after 16 weeks of practice. The fear of falling can reduce independence and quality of life and falls may lead to serious complications, hence practicing tai chi regularly is beneficial to improve the quality of life and general well-being of the elderly.

6. Improves COPD symptoms

Tai chi can help improve some symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to one study, people with COPD practiced tai chi for 12 weeks which resulted in their improvement of ability to exercises as well as improvement to their quality of life.

7. Safe for people with coronary heart disease

Tai chi is a safe form of moderate exercise that you can try if you have coronary heart disease. Following a cardiovascular study, regular tai chi practices can help you to increase physical activity, lose weight and improve your quality of life.

8. Reduces pain from arthritis

In a small-scale study in 2010, 15 participants with rheumatoid arthritis practiced tai chi for 12 weeks and at the end of the study, the participants reported less pain and improved in mobility and balance.

Similar to an earlier study, people with knee osteoarthritis practiced tai chi for 60 minutes, two times a week for 12 weeks and found a reduction of pain, improvement in mobility and quality of life.

However, do check with your doctor first before starting tai chi if you have arthritis. You’d need to do modified versions of some of its movements.

So, is tai chi safe? Yes, tai chi in general is considered to be a safe exercise with few side effects – aches or pains after practicing tai chi if you’re a beginner. More rigorous forms of tai chi and improper practice may result in increased risk of injury to the joints. And if you’re new to tai chi, consider attending a class or working with an instructor to reduce your risk of injury.

 

Source: heathline.com  

Michael Teh, 22nd April 2021.