Tai Chi for Seniors Benefits Both Body and Mind

Posted on: 2015 01 26

by Mark Huntsman  For many seniors seeking a way to get low-impact exercise that improves health and requires no special equipment, Tai Chi is an excellent solution. Because Tai Chi can be done indoors or out, and as a group activity or by yourself, it suits both people who like to work out alone at home and those who prefer to get their exercise in a social setting.

Ancient Tradition Meets Effective Exercise

Developed in China more than 2,000 years ago, Tai Chi is a gentle form of exercise that’s been described as “meditation in motion.” In other words, the motions are slow and controlled. Perhaps you’ve seen people practicing Tai Chi at the gym or in the park – if not, watch this video. While people in Western culture have quietly been practicing it for some time, it’s only quite recently that Tai Chi has started to be studied by Western science. What researchers have found is that Tai Chi provides  a great workout for your body in a number of ways.

The Benefits of Tai Chi

Studies have shown that regularly practicing Tai Chi benefits seniors in a number of ways:

Now there are multiple studies suggesting that Tai Chi may help increase arterial flexibility – which sounds complicated but is really as simple as the ability of your arteries to expand and contract as blood pulses through them. So it follows that a high level of arterial flexibility is a good indicator of overall cardiovascular health, while poor arterial flexibility is an excellent indicator of circulation problems and risk of heart disease. When someone says “physical fitness,” we normally think of strength and speed – how much you can lift and how far or fast you can run. But it turns out that flexibility is also one of the core components of physical fitness. In a study published in the American Journal of Physiology, a team of researchers “tested the hypothesis that a less flexible body would have arterial stiffening.” They tested the flexibility of 526 adults (with ages ranging from 20 to 83) by conducting a sit-and-reach-for-your-toes test. What the team found is that in middle-aged and older subjects, arterial stiffness “was higher in poor-flexibility than in high-flexibility groups.” It should be noted, however, that, as the Doctor Will See You Now cautions, “While the study links poor body flexibility in older individuals to stiffer arteries, it only suggests that maintaining good body flexibility will help keep the arteries flexible. Establishing a cause-and-effect relationship will require further studies.”

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