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Home About tai chi Benefits of tai chi

Benefits of tai chi

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Considering one of tai chi's reputed aims used to be immortality, it's not surprising that it's been found to be hugely beneficial for health, not just as prevention for many of the effects of aging but also as relief for illnesses already present.

Please note

  • People performing tai chi at the Temple of Heaven Park in Beijing, China (Photo © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons)While tai chi is a powerful art, its beneficial effects cannot happen without dedication from the practitioner! Even then, different people gain different benefits from tai chi so you should not start practising expecting to see all the benefits mentioned below.
  • It's also important to seek medical advice for any condition and not rely on tai chi to cure it for you! If you have a serious medical condition please consult your doctor before embarking on any practice.

Links to some scientific studies have also been included, although there have been far more studies than those given below - further information can be found at the links given at the end of this article.

Come along to a class and feel the different tai chi can make!

General benefits

Physical

Tai chi is most obviously a physical activity, and beginners soon notice the effect it has on their body, including:

  • legs get stronger
  • balance improves
  • muscle tension ebbs away
  • the body becomes more flexible
  • movements become more graceful

Emotional

The philosophy of tai chi tends to have an effect on practitioners' emotional well-being too, often resulting in them becoming:

  • more relaxed emotionally
  • less stressed
  • more tolerant
  • less quick to anger
  • more content

A scientific study about tai chi's positive effects on psychological well-being can be found here.

Mental

Tai chi is also a mental activity, as it's quite complicated! Students need to concentrate on the movements, which can help to improve:

  • concentration
  • mental clarity
  • self-confidence

A study on tai chi's positive effects on mental health can be found here.

Benefits for the ill or elderly

Arthritis

Elderly woman practising tai chi in Shanghai, China (Photo © Tom Thai / Wikimedia Commons)Tai chi has been shown to reduce pain caused by knee osteoarthritis, as well as improving physical function and health-related quality-of-life (further information).

Another study found that the pain and fatigue of a group of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers was significantly decreased by tai chi (further information).

Balance/falls prevention

Tai chi reduces the number of falls, the risk of falling and the fear of falling, as well as improving sense of balance (further information).

Tai chi was found to be a very cost-effective way of reducing fall-related hip fractures in older adults (further information).

Bone density

Research indicates that tai chi reduces the rate of bone loss in post-menopausal women (further information).

Cardiovascular

A group of patients with chronic heart failure found that their symptoms and quality of life were significantly improved by practising tai chi (further information).

Diabetes

Tai chi can have a positive effect on metabolic syndrome and glycaemic control (further information).

It has also been shown to decrease blood glucose in diabetes sufferers, while increasing insulin receptor function (further information).

Sleep quality

A study of older patients showed that tai chi exercises improved sleep problems (further information).

Strength

Elderly people often have problems with leg strength, which can cause difficulty in getting into and out of chairs, in turn increasing the risk of falls. This is caused by loss of knee extensor strength, which a study found was significantly improved by practising tai chi (further information).

Stroke

Tai chi has been shown to improve balance and walking speed in recent stroke victims (further information).

... and more!

The categories and links above have just scratched the surface of what tai chi could do for you. This website has an exhaustive list of benefits, from aches to weight loss. It's not pretty, but there's a lot of information there! Tai Chi Research has quite a lot of information too.