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9.21.2015

All about tai chi

A well-rounded exercise routine requires neuromotor or function fitness training to help with balance, flexibility and coordination. Finding activities to satisfy this requirement can be a challenge. Nevertheless, possibilities do exist! Tai chi is a great example of neuromotor exercise. Performing tai chi not only helps you stay active, but can also help you reduce stress.

Tai Chi Basics

Tai chi originated as a form of martial arts in ancient China and is a tradition that continues today as exercise as well as an opportunity to mediate. It is often referred to as “meditation in motion.” The basic premise of tai chi is cultivating your “qi” (pronounced “chee”), which is your vital life energy, through a series of slow, graceful movements and deep breathing. The goal is to use the movements and your breath to circulate your positive qi while removing your negative qi. Each movement flows into the next for a series of stances performed similar to a dance.

Potential Benefits of Tai Chi

Due its longevity and position as a form of Ancient Chinese medicine, tai chi is well researched. Benefits of tai chi may include:

  • Enhanced cognitive function
  • Reduced anxiety and stress
  • Decreased depression
  • Greater sense of well-being
  • Improved flexibility, balance and coordination
  • Builds muscle
  • Increased aerobic capacity (body’s ability to use oxygen)
  • Healthier bones
  • Better quality of life for older adults through increased movement and decreased probability of falling

Getting Started

  • Always talk to your doctor prior to starting a new exercise routine, especially if you have a medical condition or previous injury.
  • Find tai chi classes in your area with this locator from the American Tai Chi and Qigong Association.
  • Check local gyms or community colleges for classes.
  • Learn more about tai chi and check out some moves in this video from the National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health.
  • Watch these videos from the Arthritis Foundation for examples of tai chi exercises.
  • View this tai chi video from the Mayo Clinic.

For Health Advocate Members

If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our Wellness Program, call us today to connect with a Wellness Coach for more fitness and stress management tips!