Tai chi is often described as “meditation in motion,” but it might well be called “medication in motion.”
An art embracing the mind, body and spirit – Originating in ancient China, tai chi is one of the most effective exercises for health of mind and body. Although an art with great depth of knowledge and skill, it can be easy to learn and soon delivers its health benefits. For many, it continues as a lifetime journey.
There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice, which originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health problems. And you can get started even if you aren’t in top shape or the best of health.
In this low-impact, slow-motion exercise, you go without pausing through a series of motions named for animal actions — for example, “white crane spreads its wings” — or martial arts moves, such as “box both ears.” As you move, you breathe deeply and naturally, focusing your attention — as in some kinds of meditation — on your bodily sensations. Tai chi differs from other types of exercise in several respects. The movements are usually circular and never forced, the muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, the joints are not fully extended or bent, and connective tissues are not stretched. Tai chi can be easily adapted for anyone, from the most fit to people confined to wheelchairs or recovering from surgery.
Health benefits of Tai Chi
On a physical level, Tai Chi improves strength, flexibility, aerobic conditioning and balance. It’s been proven to improve cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure, prevent falls and help people who have arthritis.
And the list goes on!
There are also immense emotional and mental benefits. The deliberate movements help people to feel more relaxed, grounded and present in their bodies. This lowers anxiety, stress and depression; while improving memory, focus and sleep.
Tai Chi is probably the most effective exercise for your entire wellbeing. It’s so enjoyable that millions of people around the world are practicing it, no matter their age or physical condition.
It’s all about improving your quality of life and feeling empowered.
Numerous medical studies show the overwhelming benefits of Tai Chi, especially when modified programs address specific health conditions. Research shows a regular routine can prevent many health problems and help people to better manage the conditions they already have.
We look at these clinical studies in more detail further down, so keep reading to learn more.
Medical benefits of Tai Chi for Health programs (scientific studies)
According to the taichiforhealthinstitute.org
Medical research shows that Tai Chi improves chronic conditions and prevents problems associated ageing.
Randomized controlled studies from around the world have evaluated the benefits of our Tai Chi for Health programs.
What’s more, many of my research papers have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals. I’ve contributed on some level as chief investigator, co-investigator, consultant or advisor.
Here’s a list of 35 studies published by Dr. Lam and associates.
Accreditations and global organizations that support our programs can be found here.
Now, let’s take a deeper look at a few of these studies:
Benefits for arthritis…
Studies show the Tai Chi for Arthritis program effectively relieves pain, improves physical movement, flexibility and balance. There’s low risk of injury with the exercises.
Tai Chi for Arthritis study (Journal of Rheumatology 2003):
72 patients with osteoarthritis were randomly put into an experimental or control group. They completed pre and post-test measures over 12 weeks.
Results show the Tai Chi group ended up with:
- 35% less pain
- 29% less stiffness
- 29% higher ability to perform daily tasks (like climbing stairs)
- Improved abdominal muscles
- Better balance
Benefits for diabetes…
Tai Chi helps people with diabetes to control their disease and may even lower blood glucose levels.
Tai Chi for Diabetes Study (2008):
This randomized control trial assessed the effects of a modified Tai Chi program on people with poorly controlled type II diabetes.
For both the control and Tai Chi group, there were improvements in:
- HbA1c indicator
- Six-meter walk test
- Total cholesterol levels
On top of this, improvements in physical and social functioning were found in the Tai Chi group.
Researchers believe that Tai Chi may be a useful part of treatment for type II diabetes. However, a higher number of sessions per week (or longer duration) may be required to show statistically significant reductions in metabolic or cardiovascular parameters.
The study can be found here.
Benefits for back pain…
Research shows us that Tai Chi can relieve back pain, improve flexibility and strengthen abdominal and pelvic muscles.
Tai Chi for Back Pain (study by Sydney University):
This randomized controlled trial involved 160 volunteers aged between 18 and 70 with a diagnosis of “persistent non-specific low back pain”. Half the people participated in 18 Tai Chi group sessions for 10 weeks, while the control group continued with their usual health care.
Results show that Tai Chi significantly reduced the intensity of back symptoms.
There were improvements for 75% of the Tai Chi participants – indicating this intervention effectively improves pain and disability outcomes.
The full study can be found in the Arthritis Care & Research Journal November 2011.
Fall prevention benefits…
Tai Chi helps older people to improve their balance, muscle strength and confidence, so they’re less likely to fall and injure themselves. The CDC even recommends our Tai Chi for Arthritis program for fall prevention.
Tai Chi for Fall Prevention study (2007)
This was the largest fall prevention study in the world, with 702 participants. Weekly community-based Tai Chi classes significantly reduced the number of falls, as well as the risk of multiple falls by 70%. The full study was published by the Journal of American Geriatric Society.