Tai Chi Health Benefits
For centuries Tai Chi Chuan
has improved the physical conditions
and well-being of many individuals.
From an external point of view
Tai chi seems to offer relaxation
techniques combined with healing
there have been numerous medical
studies on the applicable uses
of tai chi concerning particular
conditions and injuries. Through
its meditative aspects, tai
chi reduces stress, improves
balance and coordination, increases
flexibility, motion and strength,
enhances body awareness, burns
calories and assists mental
well-being. (1) These benefits
were experienced within several
weeks of regular tai chi classes.
obvious of health benefits
several studies conducted by
the Johns Hopkins University
School of Medicine, tai chi
reduces blood pressure, eases
hypertension and improves cardiac
health. In a 12-week study,
50 percent of the participants
were prescribed moderate aerobic
exercise (i.e., brisk walking,
low-impact exercises), while
the remaining participants were
taught tai chi. The tai chi
group's systolic blood pressure
dropped an average of seven
millimeters. Although the aerobic
group's blood pressure dropped
to 8.4 millimeters, the comparison
illustrates the value of the
low-impact tai chi regimen.
The tai chi group lowered their
blood pressure considerably
without excessive or arduous
strain on their bodies. (2)
Therefore, tai chi offers similar
results to individuals who might
not be able to engage in moderate
cardiovascular health improved
drastically due to the meditative
qualities of tai chi--lowering
blood pressure and easing hypertension
through breathing techniques.
With heart disease being the
number one cause of death in
the United States, tai chi could
be beneficial. Enhancing body
awareness through measured breathing
and focus on the body's positions,
posture and movements can significantly
reduce stress, lower blood pressure
and relax muscles.
Robert Whipple, an expert on
balance and gait at the University
of Connecticut School of Medicine,
"The human frame is phenomenally
unstable." Humans stand
on a narrow foundation and constant
muscular compensation is necessary
to keep jointed segments under
control. (3) Looking at the
basic structure of tai chi,
we can understand why this exercise
can improve the narrow and unstable
human frame. Tai chi movements
are performed in an almost squatting
position (weight evenly dispersed
through a wide stance of the
legs, back straight, slow breathing
Tai chi positions
are ideal for elderly, disabled
and injured individuals. The
low-impact movements allow weak
and injured bodies to slowly
rebuild strength, while improving
posture and reducing pain. Researchers
at Emory University found tai
chi greatly reduces joint swelling
and tenderness in osteo- and
rheumatoid arthritis sufferers,
thereby improving balance, muscle
and hand grip strength. Furthermore,
a study of 200 people, in their
70s, found that 15 weeks of
tai chi training reduced their
risk of falling by 50 percent.
By lowering the center of gravity,
the positions increase leg strength.
(4) Some patients demonstrated
more improvement when tai chi
was transferred to a water exercise,
thereby relieving gravity from
their bones and joints. (5)
research from the University
of Southern California revealed
that regular tai chi classes
reduce lower back pain. This
report indicates that in approximately
50 volunteers with daily back
pain, between ages 18 and 65,
the pain was reduced in half
the volunteers. (6) Tai chi
positions rely on the individual's
back remaining straight at all
times, therefore, weak, worn
and aching muscles are forced
to gain strength. For individuals
suffering from "secretary
spread" or other types
of job-related back pain, tai
chi increases flexibility and
reduces back pain.
aspect of tai chi has been studied
among college students--a typically
depressed, anxious and fatigue
age group. Research shows that
in a group of 71 students from
two universities three (of which
control groups were formed),
only the tai chi/guided imagery
training group was found to
have less anxiety and depression.
(7) This evidence illustrates
the power of the relaxation
techniques of tai chi.
Rick. "Gotta Try It."
Prevention Magazine. Nov. 1998
Rachel Christmas. "Ease
Hypertension with Tai Chi."
Essence Magazine. Sept. 1998.
Linda. "Meditating in Motion
with tai chi." Consumer
Reports. Feb. 2000.
Paul. L. "Tai chi: A Martial
Art Turns Therapeutic."
RN Magazine. Feb. 1999.
Carol. "Water Tai Chi."
American Fitness. Jul/Aug 1998.
(6.) Li, F.,
Harmer, P., McAuley, E. "Tai
chi Improves Physical Function
in Sedentary Older Adults."
Geriatrics. July 2000.
(7.) Cai, Sean.
"Physical Exercise and
Mental Health: a Content Integrated
Approach in Coping with College
Students' Anxiety and Depression."
Physical Educator. Spring 2000.
II) Further health benefits
Here are major areas of investigation
on Tai Chií»s as a complement
to medical treatment
Bone loss - osteoporosis
Deformity of spine
Health for elder, benefits and
Knee tensor strength
Osteoporosis - see also bone
Quality of life and well being
Reduce mental and emotional
Varicella-zoster virus specific