Health Benefits of Tai Chi
The Healing Benefits of Tai Chi (and Qigong):
Tai Chi is an ancient martial art from China. It was first utilized as a means of self-defense. This self-defense emphasized not attacking another, but rather absorbing the opponent’s incoming strike (or energy) and redirecting it, thus using the opponent’s force against themselves. This primary tenant has been maintained and is key to the softness and roundness of Tai Chi movements.
Over the centuries, Tai Chi began to be recognized for other powerful and useful qualities; most notably Tai Chi’s healing properties. Today, Tai Chi is becoming more and more recognized by Western medical models for its health benefits. To date, there are over 10,000 research articles on the various health benefits of Tai Chi.
Additionally such institutions as the MD Anderson Cancer Center (1) Harvard Medical School (2), The Cleveland Clinic (3), The Mayo Clinic (4), and many others, are publishing articles on the multitude of benefits of Tai Chi. The American Physical Therapy Association has issued a position statement on the value of Tai Chi as a viable therapeutic intervention. Medicare recognizes Tai Chi as an evidence based intervention.
Since the ancient beginnings of Tai Chi, Tai Chi has morphed into many different expressions beyond its origins of self defense. Today, Tai Chi can be experienced as a slow, gentle, safe form of exercise, as a type of moving meditation, as a means to move and grow “Qi,” the bioelectrical energy in our body, or simply as a pleasurable and attainable expression of movement.
Tai Chi is accessible to all fitness levels and abilities. One does not have to be “perfect” or true to the exactitude of movement in order to gain benefits. Even the simplest, most attainable Tai Chi movement can reap a myriad of powerful benefits. For many, it is a welcomed starting point for empowerment toward one’s own health and well being.
Specific researched benefits of Tai Chi include, but not limited to:
Improved autonomic function
Decreased stress and cortisol (the stress hormone)
Improved balance and trunk control
Improved Quality of Life (as measured by the QoL scale)
Increased bone density
Increased immune responses
Increased cardiovascular health
Lowered blood pressure
Decreased back pain
Reduced join pain
It is also important to note that Tai Chi requires no special equipment, nor does it involve getting up and down off of the floor. Tai Chi can be performed from a seated or standing position.
Additionally, Tai Chi requires little space and can be done anywhere. It is a most portable and accessible exercise! Its accessibility along with its beautiful gentle movements, makes it appealing and encourages consistent engagement.
If everyone participated in Tai Chi, it would be a healthier, happier world!
1. Tai Chi: Healing From the Inside Out an article by MD Anderson Cancer Center
2. The Health Benefits of Tai Chi an article by Harvard Medical School
3. The Health Benefits of Tai Chi article by Cleveland Clinic
4. Tai chi: A gentle way to fight stress an article by the Mayo Clinic