If you’re considering exercise regimens that won’t put too much stress on your body, you may want to consider adding tai chi to your list. This exercise is known for its easy-going nature, but tai chi also packs in plenty of potential benefits for the mind and body. A systematic review of public health experts has helped shine light on this low-impact exercise and its effects on the body.1
Read more to delve into all things tai chi, including how it may support joint and muscle health, the various forms, and all of the other benefits of tai chi.
What Is Tai Chi?
You may have heard the term tai chi before, but what is it, exactly? Commonly referred to as “meditation in motion,” tai chi is a slow-motion, low-impact, Chinese martial art and aerobic exercise that may help support your health and overall well-being.2
Tai chi finds its roots in a philosophy called Taoism, which is all about finding the natural balance in things in order to live in spiritual and physical accord with the world.3 Tai chi has two main focal points within Taoism that may help you better understand this form of exercise:
- Qi: This is an energy force that flows throughout your body. Proponents believe tai chi can help you unblock your qi, allowing it to flow properly so you can feel your best.4
- Yin and yang: These are the opposing elements that make up the universe and must always be kept in harmony. Practitioners believe tai chi may help further support this balance.5
With all of this in mind, it’s no wonder that this physical activity is one that’s widely lauded and talked about. But it’s more than just an activity that has roots in traditional Chinese medicine.
What Might Tai Chi Do For You?
One clinical trial found that patients who invested time in tai chi classes showed improvements in cardiovascular fitness levels including a lower resting heart rate compared to the patients who were enrolled in a non-exercise group.6,7
In addition to these internal feelings, you may also see an increase in your strength and endurance. One study found that elderly men and women who participated in tai chi saw significant increases in muscle strength after completing a six-month program, mainly in the knee and leg muscle area.8
These potential tai chi health benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. As you continue your tai chi journey, you may find yourself not only feeling better health-wise, but also feeling a stronger sense of inner peace and enlightenment.
Potential Mental Health Benefits Of Tai Chi
In addition to helping your body find balance and harmony, this slow, mindful application of Chinese medicine may help support mental health and internal energy.9
For example, tai chi may be able to support the following:
- Healthy stress levels: Although tai chi is considered a low-impact exercise, it still has the same benefits on stress and anxiety as normal exercise, according to one study.10,11 With tai chi’s slow movements and meditative stances, it’s no wonder you may be feeling more relaxed after a class or two.
- A positive mood: On that note, tai chi may also help boost your mood for the same reason. Tai chi’s slow movements may help support a healthy nervous system.12
- Better sleep quality: One research center study found that both young adults and older adults that participated in scheduled tai chi classes experienced significant improvements when it came to their quality of sleep.13
Tai chi is a great exercise alternative that has all of the benefits of regular exercise without the added impact. If you’re recovering from a surgery or injury, or you have specific medical conditions, be sure to consult with your primary care provider to see if tai chi is right for you.
How To Get Started With Tai Chi
Now that you know more about tai chi, it’s time to check it out for yourself. If you’re looking to dip your toes into the activity, checking out classes at your local gym or fitness center is a great place to start. There are also plenty of online videos that can help assist you in those beginner moves and provide some inspiration.
On average, it takes about 30 to 36 class hours to master the first level basic movements of tai chi. These are typically things like understanding where your hands and feet go, mastering a full sequence of movements, the principles (softness, straightness, and relaxation), and more.14
Finding Your Center
Be open to all that tai chi has to offer your mind, body, and spirit. Lean into the philosophy of Taoism and the practice of qi and yin and yang, and you may find yourself on the path to balance, harmony, and better health in no time.
Why Rest And Recovery Is Just As Important As Exercise And Workout Training
Mindfulness May Better Your Physical Health, New Study Reveals
Dancing As A Workout: It’s A Great Way To Stay In Shape And Make Exercise Fun