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Tai Chi Benefits: Stress Reduction, Weight Loss, for Older Adults

Tai Chi

Tai chi is a traditional Chinese form of exercise based in martial arts that involves slow movements and deep breaths. 

Tai chi brings many physical and emotional benefits like decreased anxiety and depression and improvements in cognition and chronic disease management.

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Tai Chi Benefits: Stress Reduction, Weight Loss, for Older Adults

Tai Chi Benefits: Stress Reduction, Weight Loss, for Older Adults

https://www.healthline.com/health/tai-chi-benefits

healthline.com

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Key Ideas

Tai Chi

Tai chi is a traditional Chinese form of exercise based in martial arts that involves slow movements and deep breaths. 

Tai chi brings many physical and emotional benefits like decreased anxiety and depression and improvements in cognition and chronic disease management.

Benefits Of Tai Chi

  1. It may help with reducing stress, though most evidence is anecdotal. 
  2. Improves mood if you are depressed or anxious. 
  3. Better sleep as it may leads to a more restful sleep.
  4. Promotes weight loss.
  5. Improves cognition in older adults with cognitive impairment. More specifically, it improves memory and executive functioning skills.
  6. Reduces risk of falling in older adults by improving balance and motor function save and reducing fear of falling.
  7. Improves fibromyalgia symptoms.
  8. Improves COPD symptoms leading to improvements in ability to exercise and quality of life.
  9. Improves balance and strength in people with Parkinson’s.
  10. Safe for people with coronary heart disease.
  11. Reduces pain from arthritis and improves mobility.

Tai Chi and safety

Tai chi is generally a safe exercise with few side effects but it’s good to talk to a doctor before starting. Beginners may experience some aches or pains after practicing tai chi.

More rigorous forms of tai chi and improper practices are associated with increased risk of injury to joints. Especially if you’re new to tai chi, consider attending a class or working with an instructor to reduce your risk of injury.

Choosing a Tai Chi Style

All styles of tai chi incorporate continuous movement from one pose to the next and can be modified to suit your goals and personal fitness level. The styles are:

  1. Yang: focuses on slow, graceful movements and relaxation. Good starting point for beginners.
  2. Wu: emphasizes micro-movements and practiced very slowly.
  3. Chen: uses slow and fast movements. Somewhat difficult for beginners.
  4. Sun: is similar to Chen style but involves less crouching, kicking, and punching, making it less physically demanding.
  5. Hao: focuses on accurate position and internal strength.

Tai Chi Differ and Yoga

Tai chi emphasizes fluid movement and has roots in Chinese culture. Yoga focuses on posing and originated in Northern India.

Both tai chi and yoga are forms of exercise that involve meditation and deep breathing, and both bring benefits, such as stress relief and mood and sleep improvements.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Types Of Tai Chi

There are different styles of tai chi, each has a unique set of methods and principles, lineage, and date of origin. Some of these forms of tai chi lean towards health, while others stres...

Tai Chi Benefits
  • Fall reduction: tai chi helps to prevent trips and falls in the elderly. It also reduced the fear of falling among them and increased balance and posture.
  • Chronic pain: tai chi significantly impacts the chronic pain experienced with specific conditions, such as osteoarthritis of the knee and fibromyalgia. There is also evidence it decreases joint stiffness.
  • Chronic heart failure: tai chi was shown to improve maximum oxygen capacity in people who had heart attacks. And, although the evidence is inconclusive, tai chi seems to benefit areas of cardiovascular health, such as blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Mental health and cognitive function: There is strong evidence showing beneficial effects on cognitive function. And, although scientific evidence is inconclusive, tai chi is associated with mindfulness and psychological well-being.
Tai Chi

Is a martial art safe for most people of all ages, as it does not put much stress on the muscles and joints. It combines gentle physical exercise and stretching with mindfulness.

Research indicates that tai chi may improve balance control, fitness, and flexibility while reducing pain and the symptoms of anxiety and depression in some cases.

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Reducing Stress

Many styles of meditation can help reduce stress.

  • In an eight-week study, a meditation style called "mindfulness meditation" reduced the inflammation response caused by stres...
Controlling Anxiety

Less stress leads to less anxiety.

Regular meditation helps reduce anxiety and anxiety-related mental health issues like social anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Promoting Emotional Health

Some types of meditation can improve depression and help you maintain these benefits.

  • Two studies of mindfulness meditation found decreased depression in over 4,600 adults.
  • One study found that participants experienced a long-term decrease in depression.

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10 Benefits Of Tai Chi According To Research
  1. Reduces mortality for those who self-reported engaging in the practice 5-6 hours per week.
  2. Improves muscle strength, balance and flexibility. Evidence is inconclusiv...
The Benefits Of Tai Chi
  • Improved lower and upper-body strength. Practiced regularly, it’s comparable to resistance training and brisk walking.
  • Boosts flexibility and strength of upper and lower-...
Getting Started With Tai Chi
  • Find a tai chi branch that matches your needs. 
  • Check with your doctor before starting if you have a physical limitations or take medications that affect your balance.
  • Watch and take a class
  • If you'd rather learn at home, you can get tai chi books or videos.
  • Talk to the instructor. Experienced teachers who accommodate individual peculiarities are ideal.
  • Dress comfortably with nonrestrictive loose-fitting clothes.
  • You can practice barefoot or in lightweight and flexible shoes.
  • Most tai chi programs last at least 12 weeks, with instruction once or twice a week and practice at home. By then, you should know if you enjoy tai chi.
Tai Chi

Is a mind-body practice that involves a series of slow, flowing exercises that combine movement, meditation, and rhythmic breathing. Initially developed as a martial art, it's now commonly p...

Research Based Claims On The Benefits Of Tai Chi

"excellent evidence" that tai chi appears to helpful for Parkinson's disease, osteoarthritis, preventing falls, improving cognitive function in older adults, and rehabilitation for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Improves cognitive functioning, particularly in older adults.

Prevents falls in older adults and Parkinson’s and stroke sufferers by improving their balance.

Ameliorates back pain and cancer-related fatigue.

Helps to rehabilitate the heart of people with chronic heart failure.

Safety And Side Effects Of Tai Chi

It is possible to learn tai chi by yourself through books audio and video but only a teacher would be able to guarantee you are doing the movements correctly and safely.

Done correctly, tai chi seems safe for most healthy people, but it should not be used as a substitute for standard care in the treatment of chronic health conditions. Also, if you have a health condition such as arthritis, it's important to consult your doctor before starting tai chi to see if it's appropriate for you.

More than 20 million Americans...
More than 20 million Americans...

...practice yoga, making it one of the most popular forms of exercise.

Yoga and other forms of exercise

Although the research on yoga is still weak, based on the available findings, Yoga is probably just as good for your health as many other forms of exercise. 

It seems particularly promising for improving lower back pain and — crucially — reducing inflammation in the body.

Unclear benefits of Yoga

There is no certainty whether some forms of yoga are better than others, whether yoga should be prescribed to people for various health conditions, and how yoga compares with other forms of exercise. 

There's also no good evidence behind many of the supposed health benefits of yoga, like flushing out toxins and stimulating digestion.

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Breathing exercises

Breathing is at the core of ancient (and currently trendy) mindfulness practices, from yoga and tai chi to meditation.

However, studies suggest that breathing exercises alone, derived from...

Deep, controlled breathing

It involves filling the lungs to the max and goes by various names like belly or diaphragmatic breathing.

It has been linked to improved cognitive performance, lower stress levels, and lower blood pressure.

Breathing and yoga
Belief in the benefits of controlled breathing goes back centuries.

Central to ancient Hindu philosophy was prana, described as vital “airs” or “energies” flowing through the body. Stemming from that belief, yoga was built on pranayama or breath retention. 

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Cardio exercise

Exercise offers a whole host of benefits to health and well-being. Cardiovascular exercises aim to get your heart rate up and increase blood circulation.

Walking is a great way to get active...

Strength & resistance exercises

Resistance and strength exercises can help strengthen your muscles. This is usually done on the spot and will not make you out of breath like cardio exercises.

Instead of using tools like weights or resistance bands, you can use tins of baked beans or bags of rice.

Flexibility, balance, and mobility

Strength and flexibility routines help balance, will reduce joint pain, and reduce the risk of falls.

Yoga, pilates, and tai chi are examples of flexibility exercises.

A Hot Bath
A Hot Bath
  • Having a hot bath is practiced in many cultures and recent studies point out that ‘passive heating’ of the body improves health in several ways.

  • A hot bath controls the bl...

Heat Shock

Taking a long sauna bath or soaking in the hot tub is beneficial for people who are unable to exercise regularly. The passive heating technique can improve heart functions, lowering one’s blood pressure, and eventually helping people with type 2 diabetes.

Further studies on how heating affects health suggest the presence of ‘heat shock proteins’ in the body, produced by all cells of the human body in response to stress, that are responsible for these bodily changes. These proteins are now being further investigated.

Hiking in nature and mental health

Our world is becoming more and more urban and urbanization is linked to depression and other forms of mental illness. Visibly, simply removing us from an urban environment to spend time outdoors wh...

Nature prescriptions

Doctors are starting to write “nature prescriptions” or recommending “ecotherapy” to reduce anxiety, improve stress levels, and to curb depression. Plus, nature prescriptions are becoming more accepted by traditional health care providers as more research shows the benefits of exercising and spending time in nature.

Getting started with hiking

Hiking is one of the easiest and least-expensive sports to get involved in, and it’s fun and beneficial for the whole family. If you’re just getting started, don’t plan a Colorado 14er or to hike the Appalachian Trail. You can start small. Check out local short hiking trails and work your way up to a safe and comfortable distance.