T"ai Chi for Health

The origins of the slow and graceful movements of the Chinese art of T’ai Chi can be found in an effective self-defence art; but T’ai Chi also combines elements of traditional Chinese medicine, and is now largely taught for its numerous health benefits.

T’ai Chi probably needs little introduction in New Zealand because the flowing set of moves is readily recognised thanks to the ACC-sponsored fall-prevention classes run around the country.

Scientific research

Scientists say that the full benefits of this form of low intensity aerobic exercise, combined with preforming a fairly complex set of movements and focused concentration, needs further study but research to date shows that T’ai Chi can improve:

·       Balance  

·       Cardiovascular health

·       Bone health.

Studies found a 40% reduction in falls (and associated medical costs and mortality) in people who did T’ai Chi regularly, and results from research in Asia showed that regular T’ai Chi practice slows the thinning of bones in women, delaying the onset of osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Other studies have shown benefits for people with Parkinson’s and chronic pulmonary disease.

Other health benefits

Because T’ai Chi involves a combination of movement, breathing, focused attention, visualisation, and a psychosocial component through interactions with teachers and fellow students, the benefits of practising T’ai Chi include:

·       Reduced stress and anxiety, and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations

·       Improvement in memory and concentration

·       Increased mobility, flexibility, physical dexterity and reduced joint pain

·       Feeling more energised, alive and positive about life

·       A stronger immune system and ability to cope with disorders exacerbated by stress

·       An improved sense of wellbeing, better quality of life, and increased stamina

·       Increased leg strength and improved muscle tone throughout the body.

Also called meditation in motion, the intensity of T’ai Chi can be varied to an individual’s age and needs by appropriately qualified teachers – and is suitable for adults and senior citizens.


There are a number of modified forms of T'ai Chi (for seniors, for arthritis, for... just about anything). While these will provide some benefit (just as any exercise is beneficial) not all T'ai Chi (as taught today) will necessarily be able to convey all these benefits.



02 May 2015, 23:47
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