There’s a reason you see so many older people practicing tai chi: It does amazing things for both the body and the mind. But if you’re waiting until you hit retirement to start reaping the benefits of this gentle martial art, you’re missing out. Here are three reasons to start now.
1. Tai chi relaxes you.
All of those slow, flowing movements can lead to major stress relief. “You move forward, backward and from side to side in a carefully coordinated manner — flowing together as though your body was doing one continuous movement,” says expert Howard S. Smith, MD, director of pain medicine at the Albany Medical Center in Albany, New York. Because the exercise emphasizes rhythmic movements and passive concentration, many experts (including Smith) describe it as meditation in motion.
2. Tai chi can keep you healthy.
“Recent studies have found that it increases energy, boosts immunity against viruses, lowers blood pressure and improves cognitive function,” says Maoshing Ni, PhD, author of Secrets of Longevity. It also helps build bone density and improves your muscle strength, flexibility and balance, says endocrinologist David Slovik, MD. Plus it burns a few calories, which is always a good thing.
3. When you’re not healthy, tai chi can help you get better.
In the market for some pain relief? “Tai chi is also a wonderful choice for those seeking help with chronic pain,” says Dr. Ni. Researchers have found it can be especially effective for people with osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia. Scientists believe it may even help keep diabetes in check by lowering blood sugar levels.
Ready to try it? In this video, Dr. Oz Show guest Karl Romaine, takes you through a few basic tai chi moves to get you started.
Ancient Chinese secret indeed.
Have you tried tai chi? Is it harder or easier than it looks? Do you find it relaxing? Let us know in the comment section below.
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File under: Fit Friday