What are the benefits of practicing tai chi?

David Slovik, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
Evidence is growing that tai chi, a mind-body practice that originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health problems, bone loss among them.
In this low-impact, slow-motion exercise, you move without pausing through a series of slow, usually circular motions. Throughout these gentle movements, the muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, the joints are not fully extended or bent, and connective tissues are not stretched. Because of these qualities, tai chi can be easily adapted for anyone, from the fittest individuals to people confined to wheelchairs or recovering from surgery.
But don't let the slow and gentle nature of tai chi deceive you. Even though the exercise doesn't leave you breathless, tai chi practitioners can reap big returns. A review of six controlled studies conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School showed tai chi could be an effective way to maintain bone density in postmenopausal women. Especially important is that tai chi is a safe activity for people who are elderly, frail, and out of condition -- individuals at particularly high risk for falls and broken bones. What's more, tai chi doesn't require any special equipment or facilities.
In addition to bone strength, tai chi improves muscle strength, flexibility, and balance -- all of which help you stay fit and avoid falls and fractures. It can also slightly improve aerobic conditioning, if it is done at a certain pace and is challenging enough.
Maoshing Ni, PhD, LAc
Geriatric Medicine
Tai chi, the choreographed meditative exercises that have been a healing art in China for thousands of years, is practiced by over 100 million people worldwide and owes its popularity to a simple fact: It is enjoyable and it makes you stronger. Recent studies confirm that when practiced regularly -- 30 minutes, three times a week -- it has numerous health benefits including: increased energy, decreased stress, an immunity boost against viruses, lowered blood pressure, better cognitive functioning, increased joint mobility, an improved cholesterol profile, relief from fibromyalgia symptoms, and even a better night's sleep. It also increases leg muscle strength and provides better balance and posture.

Perhaps the best part is that tai chi is a gentle exercise that can be performed by anyone at any age.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Tai chi -- an ancient Chinese martial art focused on gentle movements -- can have major health benefits. In this video, Dr. Oz discusses his trip to China and why he loves tai chi as a form of exercise.

Practitioners of T'ai Chi (an ancient Chinese system of slow, graceful, flowing motion derived from the martial arts, and prior to that, the natural movements of birds and animals) report a profound effect on all systems of the body, improved circulation, increased strength and flexibility, and reduced tension. T'ai Chi can be practiced by just about anyone, regardless of physical capacity. It can even be practiced in a chair or a bed.
Eric Olsen
Tai chi chuan and yoga may well be two of the most beneficial activities as we grow older. These disciplines have developed over several centuries specifically to promote longevity, and the most advanced practitioners of both seem not to reach their prime until their sixties, seventies, or even later.

Tai chi chuan and yoga are both excellent forms of relaxation for the overstressed, and there's ample research to support the notion that practicing yoga or tai chi is beneficial for general health. For older adults, in particular, tai chi can be enormously valuable as a low-impact form of exercise that works the entire body in slow, rhythmic fashion to develop balance, strength, and flexibility, all essential to the maintenance of an independent, vital life. And in traditional practice settings, parks for example, both tai chi and yoga help develop social connections.
Lifefit: An Effective Exercise Program for Optimal Health and a Longer Life

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Lifefit: An Effective Exercise Program for Optimal Health and a Longer Life

An easy-to-follow programme for lengthening and improving lives. More than an exercise guide, this text is an effective tool for making meaningful lifestyle decisions to benefit long-term fitness. In...
There are several excellent studies on tai chi helping older men and women increase mobility and body mechanics. The series of flowing, graceful movements with tai chi not only give you a good workout and stretching regimen, but these studies show that participants also increase their sense of balance, can bend easier, and are better able to do household tasks. Because older adults are at increased risk of falling, tai chi can help you avoid falling and injury, as well as keep your back flexible and strong. Talk to your doctor or contact a local studio for personal instruction.  
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Diet for a Pain-Free Life: A Revolutionary Plan to Lose Weight, Stop Pain, Sleep Better and Feel Great in 21 Days, ADA...sound nutritional, delicious..a godsend to pain sufferers.

Do you wake up each morning aching with joint or muscle pain? Have you been trying to lose stubborn belly fat for years? Do you wish you could be active without pain medications? Look no further:...
There are many benefits to this type of practice and it is actually considered an exercise even though it is most commonly performed at a slower pace. Even with the gentle paced movement, calories are burned while performing the forms or sequences. This added calorie burn can lead to weight loss especially if it is incorporated with a healthy diet and other cardiovascular exercise. Tai chi is often a shared practice with yoga. Other favorable effects of the practice are balance, flexibility, coordination, concentration, calmness, reduced pain, boosting moods, lowering heart rate, and overall wellness and physical fitness.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.