The benefits of Tai Chi for seniors are incredible. A low-impact, relaxing form of exercise that only requires about 20 minutes a day and rewards your efforts. Tai Chi is an internal Chinese martial art in the sense that it focuses on mental and spiritual aspects integrated into movement.
This meditative form of exercise consists of a series of 19 movements and one pose. You may have seen groups of people demonstrating its slow-moving circular forms in public parks.
Many seniors and senior care facilities, including the Selfhelp Home have been enjoying this style of workout and conditioning for more than 20 years.
What are the Benefits of Practicing Tai Chi as we Age?
Tai chi is one of the most effective exercises for the health of mind and body and is taught around the world. Tai chi helps people to relax and feel better.
Here are 12 benefits of Tai Chi for seniors:
- Relieves physical effects of stress
- Promotes deep breathing
- Reduces bone loss in menopausal women
- Improves lower body and leg strength
- Helps with arthritis pain
- Reduces blood pressure
- Requires mind and body integration through mental imagery
- Accumulates energy by releasing endorphins rather than depleting it
- Enhances mental capacity and concentration
- Improves balance and stability by strengthening ankles and knees
- Promotes faster recovery from strokes and heart attacks
- Improves conditions of Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson’s
There are many styles of tai chi taught today and the form taught at Selfhelp is specially designed to meet the needs of elderly people and those with arthritis. Tai chi is performed by slowly and calmly moving and breathing through a series of movements which are collectively referred to as “the tai chi form.”
Renee Gatsis, who has been teaching Tai Chi for 16 years is certified by the Arthritis Foundation as well as the Tai Chi for Health Institute, and has been teaching tai chi for over 14 years.
At Selfhelp, Renee teaches Seated Tai Chi for Arthritis, which is the creation of Dr. Paul Lam, a practicing family physician and tai chi master with over 30 years of experience. The Arthritis Foundation has adopted Dr. Lam’s Tai Chi for Arthritis Program, which has been taught in the United States for approximately 15 years and is estimated to have helped over a million people. The movements are performed while sitting in a chair and often, the participants require a walker or wheelchair for mobility.
Harvard Medical School, in its May 2009 health publication, suggests that tai chi, which is often called meditation in motion, might well be referred to as “medication in motion,” for in addition to preventing falls and reducing the effects of arthritis, the practice of tai chi has been shown to be helpful for a number of medical conditions including; low bone density, breast cancer and its side effects, heart disease and failure, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, sleep problems, and stroke.
Selfhelp Residents Enjoy the Benefits
“I have an advanced case of arthritis and try to exercise each morning. I appreciate the sitting tai chi class because it gives me the opportunity to exercise my shoulders, I look forward to the class and don’t need to bring any equipment.” Dorothy Urman, 95