In today’s world of fitness, Tai Chi and Yoga are the most preferred “medications in motions”, offering a perfect combination of strength, resilience and harmony between your mind and soul.These practices attempt to work on the same principle of governing the power of inhalation and exhalation of the body, to attract surrounding energy. However, the basic difference between the two is their origin. Yoga has been originated from India, whereas Tai Chi, which literally means the ‘supreme ultimate’ originated in China.
The foundation of Tai Chi, as a known form of martial art, should be attributed to Taoist Monk, Chang Se-Feng. Centuries passed by and the practice has been upgraded into different styles and postures of the martial art; which eventually touted as the most effective way to acquire mental peace and harmony, through the incorporation of slow, rhythmic, meditative movements.
Today, after years of being praised as an exclusive form of martial art, Tai chi is reaping as the most popular “healing art” in the healthcare industry.With the latest research and published data, Tai Chi is now referred by the medical world as an answer for many physically challenging grievances, such as but not limited to – osteoarthritis, diabetes, musculo-skeleton disabilities, as well as reducing falls among older adults. Yes, it’s true! According to the recent publication in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, effects of Tai Chi, involving leg strengthening exercises or training can significantly reduce falls or injury, in older population of the society.
Common age related health issues and Tai Chi
Getting older can welcome wide range of health challenges. However, living those “golden years” is no more so challenging than it once used to be!Major technical headways, nutritional improvements and supportive approacheshave helped older adults to learn, how to live effectively with chronic conditions. It is quite surprising to know that although hardly, as mainstream as, prescribed medicines; Tai chi with gentle fluidic movement can be a natural workout for many of these chronic age old conditions, with proven health benefits.
As Tai Chi is primarily focusing on the leg strengthening exercises and toning of the musculature; it has gained major recognition in treatment of joint disorders. Many forms of Tai Chi, especially Yang style is the most practiced and it mainly includes circular leg movements as well as improved concentration through breathing patterns. It has been observed that due to its low, soothing impact on the vital joints of the body, such as knees, ankles, etc.; it can be practiced by people from any age groups.
A routine Tai Chi practice is known to promote better balance, reportedly lesser pain, tiredness and joint stiffness.Numbers of studies have been published with proven improvements in patients suffering from fibromyalgic joint disorders, chronic spondylitis, lower back pain and other spinal cord related problems.
Heart diseases have been a leading cause of death globally, and as people age, the risk of developing heart problems will be increased. Researchers at Harvard school of medical science believe that, incorporation of Tai Chi in a daily fitness regime can drastically improve quality of life in patients suffering from chronic cardiovascular problems. The study suggested that older people, who have been practicing Tai Chi, had exhibited improved cardiac efficiency, boosted blood pumping and increased stamina. Some additional benefits have also been reported such as decreased anxiety, improved vigor, reduced mood swings and definitive breathing patterns.
Respiratory and Metabolic Diseases
Various studies conducted on older adults, have concluded that regular practice of Tai Chi can significantly delay, decline in cardio respiratory and pulmonary function, due to increased oxygen intake and efficient breathing pattern during exercise. It has also been specified that more than 10 years of regular Tai Chi practice can widely strengthen pituitary-thyroid system and the pituitary-gonad system to boost the metabolism in elderly population.
Balance Control and fall
With the increasing age, the risk of fractures and/or other damage increases. As per data produced by Centre of Disease Control, more than 40% men and 70% women suffer from,some or the other form of injury, due to falls, in developed countries.As per American Journal of emergency medicine, routine Tai Chi practice can significantly reduce the chances of falling or getting injured; by contributing total balance control, muscle toning, cardiovascular endurance and posture stability.
Benefits of practicing Tai Chi Regularly
Tai Chi, a centuries old Chinese antidote with slowly choreographed, meditative movements,mainly focuses onvarious common fitness related issues such as strength, flexibility and balance. A recent report published by Harvard Medical School has suggested that Tai Chi can offer wide range of benefits like; improved physical strength, vigor, balance, concentration, coordination as well as reduced pain, stiffness, stress along with other discomforts associated with old age. It is also known to enhance sleep and tranquility.
In older adults, it has been proven to improve bone strength, joint resistance, immune resistance as well as promote emotional and mental well being.
The regular practice of Tai Chi can notably target balance improvement by toning necessary physical elements needed to stay upright for older individuals.