Why practice Tai Chi?
Millions world wide will testify to the benefits of regularly practicing Tai Chi. It is both relaxing and a physical exercise accessible to everyone. The slow and gentle movements make it suitable for the frail, elderly and sick. Both traditional Chinese and western medicine now advocate its practice as a way of relaxing, maintaining health and to offset the effects of ageing.
A review of the medical research into the benefits to those undertaking Tai Chi practice concluded that it has "Physiological and psychosocial benefits" and also it is a "safe and effective" treatment for a range of chronic conditions . The systematic review picked 47 studies out 743 in order to examine the reported claims regarding effects tai chi. The study considered the lack of Randomised Control Trials (RCTs) a difficulty in proving the health benefits of tai chi practice. That is where the people in a study are split into two groups one getting Tai Chi and the other getting an alternative or a placebo. In the case of Tai Chi it is difficult to precisely compare and contrast it with other health interventions and exercise, also the quality and quantity of Tai Chi is difficult to measure.This review and other recent research never-the-less concludes that tai chi practice brings verifiable benefits in a number of areas:
- Balance, including postural stability, control and coordination.
- Musculoskeletal conditions, such arthritis, with improved strength and mobility.
- Hypertension, reducing high blood pressure.
- Cardio-respiratory conditions, improving the functioning of the heart and lungs, such as heart rate and oxygen uptake.
- Psychological reducing stress, anxiety, depression and improved self esteem and sense of well being.
- Immune systems boosting levels off the relevant cells and hormones involved.
- Metabolism helping with weight loss and diabetes.
Tai Chi comes in different styles and forms each one can be performed to suit different levels of ability, and over time and with practice is proven increase overall fitness, strength and flexibility for people of all ages. Also, in today's hectic world we can all benefit from the relaxation of some quiet time that playing Tai Chi can afford.
Chenchen Wang et al 2004 "The Effect of Tai Chi on Health Outcomes in patients with Chronic Conditions" American Medical Association, www.archinternmed.com
Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts No. 27 spring 2008 p48