Did you know that at age 65, you are probably going to live another 18 years? Most people would love to live a long life as long as it’s a healthy one. When looking at their golden years, most older adults are not only concerned about their health but their ability to remain independent. When discussing concerns about getting older, common themes include the fear of losing independence, the fear of pain and suffering due to health conditions and the fear of being unable to do the things you love. Instead of living in fear, you can take active steps to avoid the objects of your fear. You do not have to accept all the things that come with getting older. The following is how Tai Chi keeps you young.
As we age, our body systems begin to deteriorate. Tai Chi addresses the most common problems associated with getting older:
Arthritis affects about 51% of adults over the age of 65. The pain associated with Arthritis can be severe enough to affect daily activities like walking, standing, gripping things and even just sitting in your favorite chair on a cold day. Additionally, any type of pain affects your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
Another common problem for older adults is osteoporosis. Having brittle bones makes you susceptible to serious injury even when you have a minor fall. This affects your ability to participate in any activity that may lead to a fall or pressure on your bones.
The most common issue older adults face is falling and the injuries associated with falling. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “each year one in every three adults ages 65 or older falls.” Of that number, 2 million suffer fall-related injuries that lead to a trip to the emergency room. Studies have shown that Tai Chi reduces falls by increasing strength, flexibility, balance and reducing the fear of falling.
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Type 2 Diabetes is common among older adults. Diabetes can prevent you from enjoying some of your favorite foods, curtail your activities due to insulin dependency and leave you at risk for amputation due to gangrene in your limbs. In severe cases, Diabetes may lead to blindness.
Studies have shown that Tai Chi reduces blood glucose and insulin resistance in patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Additionally, Tai Chi improves blood circulation and alleviates peripheral neuropathy.
“As a chronic condition, heart disease affects 37 percent of men and 26 percent of women 65 and older. As people age, they’re increasingly living with risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, that increase the chances of having a stroke or developing heart disease.”
“A 53-person study at National Taiwan University found that a year of tai chi significantly boosted exercise capacity, lowered blood pressure, and improved levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, and C-reactive protein in people at high risk for heart disease. The study, which was published in the September 2008 Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found no improvement in a control group that did not practice tai chi.”
Older adults are more susceptible to infection than younger adults. Additionally, they are more likely to suffer from serious complications and die from such infections. Common infections include the flu, shingles and pneumonia.
A study showed that not only does Tai Chi boost your immunity, but it is also more effective when combined with a vaccine than a vaccine is on its own.
Alzheimer’s, Dementia and Parkinson’s disease are more common among older adults.
Studies have shown that Tai Chi boosts cognitive health. Tai Chi is believed to reduce brain shrinkage associated with age, deliver more blood to the brain and affect how your brain responds to certain proteins. These changes may slow the cognitive deterioration associated with Alzheimer’s and other memory disorders.
Parkinson’s patients who practice Tai Chi show improved posture, strength, balance and were therefore less likely to fall.
Additionally, about 16% of older women and 11% of older men suffer from depression. This is because older adults are often isolated from friends and family. Participating in physical activity such as Tai Chi, especially one that includes social interaction is recommended to beat depression in older adults.
6. Respiratory Problems
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the 3rd most common cause of death for adults 65 and older. COPD drastically reduces a patient’s quality of life by reducing their stamina to perform daily activities. If you cannot breathe well, you will have a harder time walking, dancing or doing household chores.
Adults who participate in Tai Chi and have COPD notice that their symptoms do not get as bad as those who do not. Additionally, they have higher endurance while exercising and greater lung capacity.
As you can see, Tai Chi helps address several conditions associated with getting older. Therefore, Tai Chi can help you maintain a young person’s body, no matter how many years you spend on this earth. The longer you stay healthy, the longer you can maintain your independence and continue to enjoy your favorite activities.