Tai Chi Health Benefits – Tai Chi is widely practised in Asia for its many health benefits. There are thousands of studies that have looked at the effect of Tai Chi’s graceful movements upon health.
Tai Chi Health Benefits:
These can be summed up in a number of distinct categories:
- Boosting the immune system. There are many reasons why Tai Chi improves the immune system. Learning to relax also helps with chronic stress, a condition that afflicts many people in today’s society. The greater goal is to improve your circulation. Relaxing and getting better alignment means there is less tension to impede the flow of blood. This helps to better flush cellular waste from the body via the lymph system. Today’s society has far higher levels of environmental pollution that that of our ancestors. Better circulation helps the body to purge these toxins. Some styles of Tai Chi such as Sun style link every movement with an opening and closing of the palms. This has many functions, but it also expands and contracts the sternum area. This expansion helps to work the Thymus, a gland that is closely linked to the effectiveness of our immune system. It quite literally massages this and helps to keep this functioning.
- Improving balance (Avoiding falls). Tai Chi is mostly practised slowly with an emphasis on posture and alignment. Over time, this develops a much greater sense of balance and tension in the body. You literally learn to feel when your body is correctly aligned with gravity. Exercises such as push hands also help to further refine your balance and feel other people’s balance. In time this becomes internalised.
- Ageing better. Relaxing, improving circulation and reducing stress all help us to become healthier.
- Improved sleep. Tai Chi requires concentration and focus upon the movement and balance. It helps to return your awareness to your body rather than continually thinking. Studies have again shown improvements in sleep quality.
- Bone density. By relaxing and aligning your body more efficiently, the body’s weight is increasingly transferred by the bones rather than the muscles. This increasing load causes the body to strengthen the bones and decrease the likelihood of Osteoporosis. One study with 80 year old’s showed that no-one in the group which practised Tai Chi had any trace of Osteoporosis!
- Depression. Chinese medicine has some quite different theories on depression to Western medicine. Imbalances in the body’s energy systems are considered to be the root of many health problems. The spiralling movements massage the soft tissues in the body as well as the Acupuncture meridians. Over time this helps to remove these blockages. Tai Chi is also a group exercise and fairly sociable. Interacting with other people has many benefits. Developing the focus demanded to practice can move our minds away from worrying about the day’s stresses if even only for a short time.
- Parkinson’s. It is not particularly clear why Tai Chi has an impact on this. There is speculation that the Pineal gland is vulnerable to environmental toxins and can accumulate these deposits. It is thought that fluoride and other poisons may impede the functioning of this gland. It is possible that the gradual opening of the key meridians may help expel toxins and keep this healthy.
- Knee problems. Many joint problems have their roots in postural imbalance and incorrect movement. Young children move very differently to adults who have picked up many bad habits. By re-educating your body back into natural movements, it is possible to minimise or even reverse knee problems. Many studies have shown these improvements.
- Inflammatory Arthritis. Tai Chi has been shown to reduce inflammation and swelling in older practitioners. This can help conditions such as Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Improved mental outlook. Movement and focus all seem to help with our well-being. Tai Chi is also not meant to be taken too seriously. Having fun and continual learning all help.
Osteoarthritis and Tai Chi
Perhaps the majority of the research has focused upon improving Arthritis and there is a considerable number of studies which have shown positive results.
These categories of health improvements have been extensively reported. The comments are my speculation about why Tai Chi improves these areas.