The subtle ways tai chi helps fight aging

Many seniors find exercise difficult, particularly due to physical limitations, but alternatives like tai chi can make it interesting, enjoyable, and beneficial to their mental and physical health.

Originally developed as an ancient Chinese martial art for self-defense, it has since been adapted for a variety of uses. When designed for seniors, tai chi provides moving meditation, consisting of a series of slow, focused movements accompanied by deep breathing that keep the body in constant motion, according to Lifeline.

Many people report feeling calmer and more energized after a tai chi session, and while the ancient practice may offer inner peace, researchers also say it can help to improve balance and prevent falls and injuries.

“Across multiple studies, Tai chi appears to reduce risk of falling by 20 to 45 percent and is considered one of the best exercises available for ambulatory older adults with balance concerns,” Peter M. Wayne, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, told Next Avenue.

Improved core strength and mood, reduced stress, anxiety and depression, and increased energy and stamina are some of the other physical and mental benefits of tai chi, according to Mayo Clinic.

“Tai chi helps me mentally, as one must concentrate on the moves and the sequence in order to get the full benefit,” Patricia Bethke Bing, a retired community organizer in Knoxville, Tennessee told Next Avenue. “I find the practice calming and centering, and it helps me emotionally. Tai chi is a pause from daily stresses and a safe comfortable place to be quiet.”

Tai chi can be learned in a classroom setting or by watching a video. There is no need for any special equipment, and the exercises can be performed in any comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.