TAI CHI FOR EVERYONE
Tai chi is a form of exercise that began as a Chinese tradition. It’s based in martial arts, and involves slow movements and deep breaths. Tai chi has many physical and emotional benefits. Some of the benefits of tai chi include decreased anxiety and depression and improvements in cognitionTrusted Source. It may also help you manage symptoms of some chronic diseases, such as fibromyalgiaTrusted Source or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)Trusted Source.
1. Reduces stress
One of the main benefits of tai chi is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety, though most evidence is anecdotal.
In 2018, one studyTrusted Source compared the effects of tai chi on stress-related anxiety to traditional exercise. The study included 50 participants. The researchers found that tai chi provided the same benefits for managing stress-related anxiety as exercise. Because tai chi also includes meditation and focused breathing, the researchers noted that tai chi may be superior to other forms of exercise for reducing stress and anxiety. However, a larger-scale study is needed.
Tai chi is very accessible and lower impact than many other forms of exercise. The researchers found it to be safe and inexpensive, so it may be a good option if you are otherwise healthy and experiencing stress-related anxiety.
2. Improves mood
Tai chi may help improve your mood if you are depressed or anxious. Preliminary research suggests that regularly practicing tai chi can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. It’s believed that the slow, mindful breaths and movements have a positive effect on the nervous system and mood-regulating hormones. Further research is being done to establish a clear link between tai chi and improved mood.
3. Better sleep
Regularly practicing tai chi may help you to have more restful sleep.
One studyTrusted Source followed young adults with anxiety after they were prescribed two tai chi classes each week, for 10 weeks. Based on participant reporting, the individuals who practiced tai chi experienced significant improvements in their quality of sleep compared to those in the control group. This same group also experienced a decrease in their anxiety symptoms.
Tai chi can improve sleep for older adults, too. In a study published in 2016Trusted Source, researchers found that two months of twice-weekly tai chi classes was associated with better sleep in older adults with cognitive impairment.
4. Promotes weight loss
Regularly practicing tai chi can result in weight loss. One study tracked changes in weight in a group of adults practicing tai chi five times a week for 45 minutes. At the end of the 12 weeks, these adults lost a little over a pound without making any additional lifestyle changes.
5. Improves cognition in older adults
Tai chi may improve cognition in older adults with cognitive impairment. More specifically, tai chi may help improve memory and executive functioning skills like paying attention and carrying out complex tasks.
6. Reduces risk of falling in older adults
Tai chi can help improveTrusted Source balance and motor function, and 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. Because fear of falling can reduce independence and quality of life, and falls can lead to serious complications, tai chi may offer the additional benefit of improving quality of life and general well-beingTrusted Source in older adults.
7. Improves fibromyalgia symptoms
Tai chi may compliment traditional methods for management of certain chronic diseases.
Results from a 2018 studyTrusted Source showed that a consistent tai chi practice can decrease the symptoms of fibromyalgia in some people. Participants in the study who practiced tai chi for 52 weeks exhibited greater improvements in their fibromyalgia-related symptoms when compared to participants practicing aerobics. Learn about other alternative treatments for fibromyalgia symptoms.
8. Improves COPD symptoms
Tai chi may improve some of the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In one studyTrusted Source, people with COPD practiced tai chi for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, they have improvements in their ability to exercise and reported an overall improvement in their quality of life.
9. Improves balance and strength in people with Parkinson’s
In a randomized, controlled trial of 195 participants, regular practice of tai chi was found to decrease the number of falls in people with Parkinson’s disease. Tai chi can also help you to increase leg strength and overall balance.
10. Safe for people with coronary heart disease
Tai chi is a safe form of moderate exercise you can try if you have coronary heart disease. Following a cardiovascular event, regular tai chi practices may helpTrusted Source you:
increase physical activity
improve your quality of life
11. Reduces pain from arthritis
In a small-scale 2010 studyTrusted Source, 15 participants with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) practiced tai chi for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, the participants reported less pain and improved mobility and balance.
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