Suzanne Hall (Diabetic Living Magazine-Spring 2007) discusses Tai Chi as an ideal exercise for seniors and for people with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.
If bone crunching strenuous exercise isn’t for you but you are still very much aware of your need for exercise, Tai Chi may be the answer for you. Tai Chi (pronounced tie chee) is a gentle exercise program derived from the martial arts. Tai Chi is composed of slow, deliberate movements, meditation, and deep breathing, which enhances physical health and emotional well-being.
Tai Chi has three major components: movement, meditation, and deep breathing.
Movement: All major muscle groups are needed for the slow gentle movements of Tai Chi. Tai Chi improves balance, agility, strength, flexibility, stamina, muscle tone, and coordination. This low impact form of exercise is ideal for seniors who need balance work as well as bone strengthening to be strong and healthy.
Meditation: Research shows the meditation soothes the mind, enhances concentration, reduces anxiety, and lowers blood pressure and heart rate.
Deep Breathing: Inhaling fresh air increases lung capacity, stretches the muscles involved in breathing and releases tension. It also enhances blood circulation to the brain, which boosts mental alertness. At the same time the entire body is supplied with fresh oxygen and nutrients.
You can fine introductory video’s to introduce you to the world of Tai Ch, but after learning some of the forms you will undoubtedly have more fun if you join a class.
A class usually last an hour and an instructor will guide you through a series of 20 to 100 Tai Chi movements that will comprise a “form.” A form can take up to 20 minutes to complete. The teacher encourages you to perform the movements in a slow, meditative manner and will remind you to focus on your breathing.
Tai Chi improves overall fitness, coordination, and agility. People who practice Tai Chi tend to have good posture, flexibility, a good range of motion, and are more mentally alert. It is specifically beneficial for those with chronic pain, gout, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, osteoporosis, headaches, and sleep disorders. Tai Chi is safe for everyone, regardless of age or athletic ability and can be modified for most health problems.
April 28th will mark Tai Chi Day. Go to www.worldtaichiday.org to learn more about this fascinating and beneficial form of exercise.