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Tai Chi for Better Health

Posted on Feb. 10, 2017, 6 a.m. in Exercise Brain and Mental Performance Cardio-Vascular Parkinsons Disease

Recent studies have shown that tai chi may be beneficial to people with certain health conditions.

Tai Chi is a practice many people are unfamiliar with, but the technique that is based on an ancient Chinese martial art form offers significant health benefits in a variety of areas. Controlled movements, rhythmic breathing and meditation are combined in an exercise focused on stimulating the flow of chi or the vital energy that is believed to promote healing. This peaceful type of moving meditation is primarily used to improve strength, balance, flexibility and posture. Recent studies of Tai Chi shows that this mind-body practice is able to alleviate pain, improve mood, increase immunity and support heart health.

    •    Psychological benefits - practicing Tai Chi offers some of the benefits of meditation that include the reduction of stress, anxiety, and depression. Resolving one or more of these issues obviously leads to a more peaceful state of mind. It has been shown that stress can also lead to common health issues including cardiac problems, cancer and diabetes. It is more important to identify and treat the underlying cause of a disease than to simply treat the symptoms, so practicing Tai Chi truly has some far-reaching health benefits.

   •    Parkinson's Disease - although there is currently scant evidence that Tai Chi is able to reduce the effects of this devastating disease, the improved balance and strength gained is a benefit that may help Parkinson's sufferers avoid serious falls that are a symptom of the disease.

   •    Heart disease - the practice of Tai Chi offers a two-fold benefit for people who either have cardiovascular disease or are at risk of developing the condition. This kind of low-level exercise is a safe way to increase physical strength and meditation can reduce the elevated stress levels that contribute to high blood pressure.

    •    Osteoarthritis - while there is no evidence that practicing Tai Chi will improve the function of arthritic joints, one study indicated that people who had osteoarthritis in their knee found some relief from pain after Tai Chi sessions.

    •    Fibromyalgia - this chronic pain condition is very common and affects millions of people in the United States. The disease is characterized by chronic pain with specific tender areas. In addition to severe pain, the symptoms include problems sleeping, migraine headaches, fatigue and a reduction in the ability to think clearly. The benefits of practicing Tai Chi include pain reduction, increased physical strength, reduced stress and improved sleep. Fibromyalgia is an extremely difficult condition to live with, but regular Tai Chi sessions can alleviate some of the symptoms. 

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