How Does Tai Chi Improve Well-Being?

How tai chi improves balance, combats stress and alleviates arthritis pain

With its blend of physical movement and meditation, tai chi can be a wonderful way to improve well-being. The art of tai chi originated centuries ago in China, and is practiced today in dozens of different styles. It has gained popularity in the West as a gentle form of exercise generally safe for all ages. Learn the most significant ways in which tai chi can improve your health and well-being.

Tai chi improves well-being through reduced stress

Tai chi focuses on controlled motion and breath, which puts your mind and body into a relaxed but energized state. According to the Mayo Clinic, tai chi's specific combination of mediation and flowing, precise movement can help relieve anxiety and stress. Tai chi may also be beneficial in fighting depression, improving quality of sleep, boosting cardiovascular fitness and lowering blood pressure.

To maximize the health and well-being benefits of tai chi, the Mayo Clinic recommends practicing on a regular basis. If you don’t have time to take a regular class, you can still practice tai chi in your spare minutes -- all you need is a quiet space.

Tai chi can improve balance

According to a 2009 article in the scientific journal Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, tai chi can help improve standing balance in both healthy seniors and those suffering from chronic stroke. The study showed improved ability to lean in various directions and better balance control. For seniors, good balance is an especially important component of health and well-being, helping to reduce the frequency and severity of slips and falls.

While tai chi is generally safe, be sure to practice in a supervised setting if you have balance problems, and consult your doctor before beginning your tai chi regimen.

Tai chi may improve symptoms of arthritis

The Tai Chi and Qigong for Health Information Center, a website established with funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, notes that tai chi may improve well-being for those suffering from arthritis by helping to relieve joint pain.

For example, a study at the Acupuncture and Meridian Science Research Center (AMSRC) at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South Korea, showed improved quality of life for patients with knee osteoarthritis following an eight-week tai chi training program. In addition, a 2009 review of arthritis therapies by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill found that tai chi provides such benefits as improved strength, balance, functional status and self-efficacy, and recommends tai chi as a safe and effective exercise for chronic arthritis patients.

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