Tai chi as a Healing Exercise
It is possible, (and quite common) to learn tai chi for health without paying much if any attention to the martial aspect of the art. But it is impossible to study tai chi as a martial art without gaining the health benefits.
The many health benefits of tai chi chuan are a direct result of the search for an effective martial art. Tai chi chuan grew from an ancient bed of knowledge that included traditional medicine, qigong (Chinese yoga), northern Chinese martial arts, daoist philosophy, and the insights of several very dedicated and gifted people.
Whether you are looking for an effective way to feel better, relax, and improve your fitness, or you wish to learn a profound martial art, then tai chi chuan has a lot to offer you.
During recent decades, much research has been done into the broad range of health benefits provided by tai chi. In addition to improvements in general health, tai chi has been shown to improve balance, reduce the risk of falls in older adults, and to reduce injuries due to falls. It can lower blood pressure, reduce cohesion of blood platelets, reduce inflammation, improve rheumatoid diseases such as arthritis, reduce anxiety, and ease depression.
Tai chi for Health and Fitness
Tai chi trains the body and mind to be properly aligned and balanced, and to move with increasing efficiency.
Proper alignment reduces muscular and neurological stress, improves the function of the organs, strengthens the muscles (especially the thighs), improves the function of the fascia, regulates the emotions and improves circulation.
Cardiovascular tai chi workout.
When people talk of the ease with which tai chi can be adapted to suit any age or fitness level, they often refer to the ability to make it easier and more accommodating for the frail and elderly. However, tai chi can provide an extremely challenging workout worthy of the most elite athletes, from nordic skiers to olympic gymnasts.
As a tai chi player’s posture improves the stress normally held in the spine and other joints is released and transferred to the thighs. The result is not only improved mobility and agility in the torso, but also increased exercise for most of the quadricep muscles. The degree to which an person refines their posture and slows the movement can mean that the pulse rate can vary from 70 beats per minute to 190 beats per minute.
Calorie output can range from 100 calories per hour to more than 1000 calories per hour, depending on various factors.
The slow and gentle movements of tai chi exercise the muscles in manner very different from other types of exercise. The slowness of the exercise engages the body as a whole very efficiently. It also presents physical and mental exercises that can be more challenging and beneficial than exercises which require less conscious awareness.
Tai chi training is known to strengthen muscles throughout the body. But it also improves functional strength of the body as a whole. Some of this improved muscle function is a result of proper alignment and relaxation. Some is the result of improved myofascial release effected by the slow twisting and stretching movements. There is also the component of improved circulation and kinaesthetic awareness.
One pilot study tested the 1-rep maximum (1RM) weight lift of subjects on two different days. On the second day, the subjects did 15 minutes of tai chi before their lift. The results showed a 1RM increase by an average of 10% among subjects after 15 minutes of tai chi.
Train Mind and Body together for better balance.
“Tai chi, a form of dynamic balance training that requires no new technology or equipment, has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of falling in older people by almost 50% (46). As a component of the National Institute on Aging FICSIT trials (Frailty and Injuries: Cooperative Studies of iIntervention Techniques), individuals aged 70+ were randomized to Tai chi (TC). individualized balance training (BT), and exercise control education (ED) groups for 15 weeks”….”Both TC and BT subjects reported increased confidence in balance and movement, but only TC subjects reported that their daily activities and their overall life had been affected; many of these subjects had changed their normal physical activity to incorporate ongoing TC practice. The data suggest that when mental as well as physical control is perceived to be enhanced, with a generalized sense of improvement in overall well-being, older persons’ motivation to continue exercising also increases.” []page 280, Exercise and Sport Science, Garret and Kirkendall, 2000, ISBN 0-683-03421-9
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|1.||↑||page 280, Exercise and Sport Science, Garret and Kirkendall, 2000, ISBN 0-683-03421-9|