We all know we need physical activity to stay healthy. Even then, 60% of American adults don’t engage in their recommended amount of physical activity and more than 25% are completely sedentary. There are a myriad of reasons why we are not working out but the good news is that Tai Chi may be a great option! Different studies have shown that people who try Tai Chi tend to keep doing it, which is why Tai Chi is an excellent workout choice. So let’s address the reasons why you are not working out and how Tai Chi makes a difference:
1. You just don’t have the time.
Maybe you have a demanding job, and a family, or hobbies plus responsibilities. However, the truth is that when we really like something or value it, we find more time for it. If you just learned that you were going to have your 15th grandchild would you honestly say you had no time to spend with him or her? You would find a way. The key to incorporating physical activity into your life is to plan for it. Even just 15 minutes a day may make a difference. When you are busy the idea of adding something else to your plate is daunting. However, physical activity generally leads to more energy. If you sacrifice just a few minutes out of your day, you may be able to get even more out of your future days because you have more energy.
Tai Chi is perfect because you can do it anywhere. In your office, in your bedroom, in a hotel room while you are on business. The more accessible an activity is, the easier it is to find the time to do it. You do not have to allocate time to commuting to a gym and you are not bound by an establishment’s hours of operation. You make your own hours, you make your own Tai Chi time.
2. Even if you had the time, you hate exercise.
In the grand scheme of things, unless you are one of those few people who derive pleasure from working out, there are probably countless other things you would rather be doing. Yet, one person’s idea of fun and entertainment may be another person’s notion of cruel and unusual punishment. The point is just like in hobbies and all else in life there are so many forms of exercise out there that you are bound to find one that you will enjoy.
Tai Chi is likely to be that one. Participants describe Tai Chi as relaxing, calm, pain-reducing, soothing and a form of “meditation in motion.” The movements are easy and loosen up your muscles. Studies have shown that Tai Chi alleviates depression, helps improve breathing and leads to better sleep. It is also a social avenue to meet and be with people who have the same interests as you do. When it comes to exercise, you don’t have to be running up a hill with sweat pouring down your back and pounding away at your bones and joints. Instead, you can try slow, gentle and relaxing Tai Chi movements.
Don’t be fooled though, just because Tai Chi is low impact and relaxing does not mean it’s ineffective! Studies have shown that Tai Chi leads to weight loss, increased flexibility, strength and improved balance.
3. But you’re so tired.
“Think of a scenario where you experienced a hectic day in the office, got caught in the traffic jam, came home, taught your kids homework along with fixing the dinner. The last thing you would want to do is exercise or run away for a energetic walk…”
Tai Chi is just perfect for such days. Tai Chi is actually a great form of stress relief. The serene, flowing movements along with controlled breathing and meditation will have you feeling a lot better than you did when you got home. Additionally, it is likely to help you get a better night’s sleep so you can rest and recharge for the day ahead.
3. Exercise is uncomfortable and even painful.
Many forms of exercise are high-impact. Workouts which involve running, jumping and related activities are hard on your weight-bearing joints. These are your hips, knees, ankles and parts of your spine, just to name a few. If you are older, unfit, overweight, or have been involved in high-impact sports for a long time, then you should consider low-impact alternatives. High-impact activities can lead to joint or muscle pain and injury. Additionally, if you have arthritis, heart problems or other medical conditions, it may be painful and inadvisable for you to engage in such activity.
Tai Chi is the perfect exercise for people with varying levels of fitness and ability. There are even Tai Chi regimens for persons in wheelchairs, Parkinson’s patients and those with arthritis. Tai Chi is gentle and low-impact and is relaxing rather than painful. In fact, studies have shown that Tai Chi relieves pain, including chronic back pain, arthritis and sciatica.
4. The gym is not for you.
Some people love the gym and many others would prefer an alternative. The cost of a gym membership may be prohibitive (especially for older adults on a fixed income), the atmosphere may be unsupportive or intimidating and it may be inconvenient to have to actually get to one, let alone exercise.
Tai Chi is perfect because it does not require special equipment, clothing or locations. You can practice Tai Chi almost anywhere. You can do it in a group in a classroom or park, or alone in your pajamas.
5. You’re not motivated enough to commit.
This blog has covered several different scientific studies about Tai Chi and the related health benefits. One interesting factor mentioned in several of the studies is the rate of adherence to Tai Chi. Several of the studies recruited volunteers or random samples of adults, many who had never tried Tai Chi before and may not have been otherwise physically active. Even after the study was over, as many as six months after to as long as a year later, many of the participants were still practicing Tai Chi.
So…examine your excuses…then forget them and try Tai Chi. Unlike other exercises you’ve tried, you are more likely to stick to it. The benefits will definitely be worth your while.
Wayne, Peter, and Mark Fuerst. The Harvard medical school guide to tai chi: 12 weeks to a healthy body, strong heart, and sharp mind. Boston: Shambhala, 2013. Print.