Written by MindMate Staff
Tai Chi is a two pronged approach to exercise, promoting both physical and mental health benefits. It has been practiced for centuries as a martial art as well, and many older people find it helpful for learning self-defence techniques. Its slow movements are intended to improve balance and reduce stress, encouraging mindfulness. It can also offer pain relief for sore joints as it is relatively low impact!
People who practice tai chi report that it reduces feelings of stress and anxiety. Those who suffer with depression also report that since practicing tai chi on a regular basis, their overall mood has been improved also. In turn, this boosts energy levels and increases stamina also. Most significantly for seniors though, research has indicated that regular practice of tai chi reduces the occurrence of falls as well.
Aside from the general health benefits of tai chi, studies have also shown that there is a direct link between tai chi and the improvement of certain health conditions. Here’s a few of them below:
Chronic Heart Failure
Research at Harvard Medical School and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that patients with chronic heart failure who regularly practiced tai chi experienced a better quality of life and mood, and that they slept better.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) found that people with Parkinson’s Disease who practiced tai chi experienced significantly improved gait and posture, and fewer falls.
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has indicated that tai chi can improve blood glucose levels and immune system response in patients with type 2 diabetes.
The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry has indicated that a weekly tai chi exercise class with a standard depression treatment for a group of older adults with depression could help to treat depressive symptoms.
In addition to all of this, there is evidence that tai chi can help improve cognitive function and reduce the effects of dementia too. It has been shown to reduce inflammatory response in patients with breast cancer, which may, say researchers, have implications for breast cancer survival.
A study published in Annals showed that tai chi led to lower pain levels and fewer symptoms of depression.
A review of tai chi, published in the open access journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, concludes that tai chi can have positive psychological effects, but that more high quality, randomized trials are needed to confirm this.