Tai chi has been practiced for centuries; it is an ancient Chinese exercise system promoting serenity through focused, flowing movements. Tai chi can be performed individually or simultaneously with others in a noncompetitive manner. Tai chi practice can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression as well as lower your blood pressure, according to MayoClinic.com. In addition to these benefits, practicing tai chi can help you improve your balance and coordination.
History of Tai Chi Exercises
Tai chi was originally practiced in China as a martial art. However, it is a much quieter practice than other martial arts and even gentler than yoga. Tai chi has its roots in the Buddhist tradition, promoting stress relief, meditation and body awareness. While tai chi helps a person improve physical balance, the practice historically was meant to achieve a balance of mind and body through a series of graceful and thoughtful movements.
Tai chi balance exercises involve slow, deep breathing and smooth, focused movements of the body. When practiced consistently, they can help improve your overall coordination. For example, the tai chi heel-to-toe walk can help you find stability through your lower body as you take steps in a heel-to-toe manner. Another tai chi balance exercise, standing on one leg, may appear as mere child's play, but the exercise can become a challenge for adults and is also beneficial to helping improve your balance and coordination.
Tai chi has been widely promoted as beneficial to elderly people who may be at risk for falling, as it can help increase strength and coordination. However, younger people can benefit, too, according to a research study published in the journal "Health Promotion International" in 2004. The study found that tai chi balance exercises not only improved the participants' balance, but also tended to lower their blood pressure, improving overall cardiovascular health.
Before beginning any new exercise, consult your doctor or personal trainer. While tai chi is generally a safe daily practice, it may be a good idea to have a friend nearby for support if you are just beginning. You can also use a wall or chair to help you balance until you become more practiced.
- MayoClinic.com: Tai Chi: A Gentle Way to Fight Stress
- National Institute on Aging: Tai Chi for Older People Reduces Falls, May Help Maintain Strength
- Harvard Health Publications: Try Tai Chi to Improve Balance, Avoid Falls
- Health Promotion International: Health Benefits of Tai Chi Exercise
- National Multiple Sclerosis Society: Adaptive Tai Chi
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