Tai Chi is a mind-body practice which originated in ancient China that began as a martial art and, as it developed, took on the purpose of enhancing physical and mental health. It involves slow, gentle movements, deep breathing, and meditation, sometimes called "moving meditation," and is ideal for seniors.
It is a type of low-impact, weight-bearing, and aerobic--yet relaxing--exercise. Some people believe it improves the flow of energy through the body, leading to better wellness and a wide range of potential benefits: Improved strength, conditioning, coordination, flexibility and balance. The Oregon Research Institute found that, after six months, tai chi participants were twice as likely to have no trouble performing moderate to rigorous activities as nonparticipants. The benefit was greatest among those who started with the poorest health or worst function.
Two studies by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) found it to cut the fear of falling and the risk of falls among older people. Reduced pain and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis: Patients with osteoarthritis assigned to a tai chi group during a three month study reported less joint pain and stiffness than when they started and than the control group. Enhanced sleep: the Oregon researchers found participants had improved sleep quality and length, and fewer sleep disturbances than those in a low-impact exercise group. A UCLA study found benefits similar to those gained through drugs or cognitive behavioral therapy--two thirds of those practicing tai chi had major improvements in sleep quality, compared with one third of those involved in health education sessions. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the NIA supported a study in which researchers found that tai chi prompted an immune response to shingles similar to the varicella vaccine, and, when combined with the vaccine, tai chi helped create even greater levels of immunity--double those of the control group.
Robert G. Tupac, DDS, FACP, Inc., Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics (661) 325-1275 | www.drtupac.com 5060 California Ave., #170, Bakersfield, CA 93309