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Tai Chi: Good for the Heart, Body and Soul

Tai Chi has been around for thousands of years, yet many people haven’t heard of it. This gentle form of martial art is perfect for people of all ages, especially seniors. 

Looking for a good way to spend some quality time with your parent that will also be beneficial to your health? If so, consider taking up Tai Chi, which has been popular in China for more than 2,000 years. The benefits of doing this gentle and relaxing form of martial art are well-founded and routinely touted by medical professionals. Doing it with your parent will get your parent motivated and keep him or her interested, plus you will also reap the health benefits along the way.

"Tai Chi focuses on creating harmony between the muscles and blood flow to the heart."

Tai Chi explained
When you think of martial arts, the most likely image that comes to mind is of someone wearing a white robe with a black belt making quick movements. That’s not Tai Chi. According to the American Tai Chi Association, there are three main components that work together in the practice: meditation, deep breathing and gentle, flowing movements. Tai Chi exercises are low impact, making it an ideal form of movement for older individuals.

Tai Chi benefits
According to Vanderbilt University, Tai Chi focuses on creating harmony between the muscles and blood flow to the heart. Tai Chi encourages deep breathing, which circulates more accessible oxygen throughout the body. Additional benefits include:

  • Psychological. Tai Chi movements increase communication between the mind and body, helping to reduce depression and stress. They also increase mental focus and help to clear the mind.
  • Physical. Tai Chi practice increases energy and helps reduce pain. Reuters has reported that Tai Chi practitioners experience a lessening of the knee pain associated with arthritis. Researchers found that older adults who did Tai Chi for two one-hour sessions per week experienced a greater reduction in pain.
  • Balance. The National Institutes of Health reports that Tai Chi practice can improve balance. This is very important for older adults because poor balance can lead to falls, a major concern for the elderly. They also report that it can help ease stiffness, improve sleep, coordination, muscle strength, and flexibility.
  • Wellness. Doing Tai Chi is an effective way to maintain overall health and wellness.

Additionally, the Mayo Clinic reports that practicing Tai Chi helps to lower blood pressure, improve sleep quality, and slow bone loss in post-menopausal women. To get started, find Tai Chi classes in your local community or invest in a Tai Chi DVD. Even doing it twice a week will provide substantial benefits for both you and your parent.