Tai Chi Fights Stress, Aids Breathing, May Help Heart

So much of health is linked to mental wellbeing. Stress, exhaustion and inactivity can take a toll. Exercise can help you physically and mentally. Tai chi is a beautiful, nonviolent and non-competitive martial art that has been described as “meditation in motion.” It aims to boost calmness through slow, constant motion.
 
A wonderful thing about tai chi is that it’s low-impact and suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. You don’t need to be flexible, like yoga, and touch your toes or lie on the floor. Tai chi can even be done sitting. You just need to use a chair without arms. Moreover, unlike yoga — which requires a mat — there is no equipment necessary for tai chi. And, if you don’t like the gym, you’re in luck, once you know the steps you can do tai chi anywhere: the park, your home, the street. Classes on tai chi are often available at the Y or community centers. However, if there are none in your area, there are many videos online and books so that you can teach yourself. Nothing can substitute a teacher when it comes to learning the moments properly. But, videos may help you decide if you are interested in seeking out formal tai chi lessons near you.
 
Tai chi can lower stress and anxiety while increasing energy and stamina, flexibility, balance, agility, muscle health and aerobic capacity. It may also aid quality of sleep, boost the immune system, lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, fight joint pain and congestive heart failure and reduce the risk of falls. A study used 126 heart attack survivors assigned people to tai chi, a support group or aerobics. People in the tai chi group were the only ones to have improvements in diastolic and systolic blood pressure (the top and bottom numbers respectively). They were also far more likely to stick with their routine after a long time.
 
The rhythmic breathing and motions, intended to make energy, or chi, flow, can aid health in a variety of ways. For instance, controlled breathing isn’t only calming; it also supports oxygen uptake and decreases shortness of breath. It also has been linked to improved cognition in older people and less fatigue in cancer patients. These benefits may be because of the increase in oxygen.
 
When it comes to heart health the low-intensity exercise has shown, time and again, it can be an excellent therapy that doesn’t tax people who aren’t fit. “Tai chi may be a good option for those unable or unwilling to engage in other forms of physical activity, or as a bridge to more rigorous exercise programs in frail patients,” Dr. Peter Wayne, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the director of research for the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine.
 
Ruth Taylor-Piliae, Ph.D., R.N., added, “Regular physical activity promotes weight reduction, which can help reduce high blood pressure. Exercise can lower total LDL, or ‘bad,’ cholesterol levels, as well as raise HDL, or ‘good,’ cholesterol levels. Among those with pre-diabetes, regular exercise can aid the body’s ability to use insulin to control blood glucose levels.
 
Before starting any routine, no matter how innocuous it seems, speak to a doctor and see if it’s right for you!

Banner Image: Dennis Jarvis, Wikimedia
August 08, 2019
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