According to a 2007 National Halth Interview survey, an estimated 2.3 million U.S. adults have done tai chi in the past 12 months. The following are just a few reasons why you should consider joining them:
“It’s Accessible to Almost Anyone.”
- When you ask many people, especially those who live in cities what they do for exercise, if the answer isn’t “nothing” it most likely involves a gym. However, gym memberships are not free and anyone on a strict budget would make the gym fee a low priority. You can do Tai Chi anywhere, especially at home for free or the one time cost of buying a guide DVD or book.
- Older adults may not be as nimble as they used to be and their joints and other body parts cannot and should not take a beating in the name of health and fitness. Tai Chi is perfect because it is low-impact.
- People in poor health may not be able to run, do martial arts or work the weights in the gym room, but they are very likely able to do Tai Chi and it may lead to better health.
You are More Likely to Stick to It.
It’s simple. If you don’t like doing something you need a strong incentive to keep doing it. It does not help if the thing you are doing is painful, difficult, boring or all three. Every year people embark on an exercise regimen for one reason or another. Some reasons are as serious as to ward off dangerous health effects of being overweight and unfit or vain because they want to wear a bikini or speedo to the pool. However, many of these people quit. “The best thing about Tai Chi is that people enjoy it, so they are more likely to stick with it long enough to get some benefit. It helps when something that’s good for you is also fun.” Additionally, Tai Chi is not incredibly difficult or boring! All in all, you are more likely to stick to Tai Chi than other forms of exercise you have tried in the past.
It’s Gentle but Effective.
Tai Chi is low-impact. It looks…”like a cross between shadow boxing and slow-motion ballet.” However, don’t let looks fool you. “People assume that for exercise to be beneficial you have to be huffing and puffing, sweating and red-faced afterward… This may turn people off, particularly older adults. However, we have found that activities like tai chi can be just as beneficial in improving health.”
It Makes you More Sensitive.
Tai Chi exercises the body but also works the mind. One of the major aspects of Tai Chi is teaching oneself to be more aware of your body and its relation to the external world. This practice makes you less likely to fall and more likely to react to prevent injury when you do fall and also to avoid dysfunctional habits.
However, the benefit is not only in relation to falls: “The sensitivity that comes from tai chi, however, is not only compassion. It is sensitivity to natural and biological cycles, the flow of energy, tiny shifts and changes in atmosphere (both meteorological and metaphorical) and a heightening of those functions that reveals the world in new ways. Remember, our experience of life may be a function of our mind, but that mind is informed by our sensorium, specifically by the information that comes in through our five (or more) senses.”
It’s different than other forms of exercise: “It teaches people to move well in multiple planes of motion with a state of awareness not cultivated in everyday fitness. Most people check out on a treadmill or during high-intensity activity.”
Jordan Forth, a fitness trainer from Hawaii said the following about Tai Chi:
” …tai chi improves mobility, movement and flexibility and can be even more dynamic than yoga…” Forth, now 35, has studied Tai Chi since he was a teenager.
“With tai chi you’re grounded the entire time,” he said. “For me, (it) translates more into functional everyday movement.”
It’s the “Perfect Exercise.”
“The last time I looked, there were some 500 studies about the various physical benefits of tai chi, from improving balance and attention span to boosting the immune system to beating back the symptoms of arthritis, asthma and insomnia…” You can read more about only a few of these benefits on our blog.