We work hard, play hard and spend hard, leading to all kinds of worries and stresses. Now fitness experts say tai chi, an ancient Chinese practice known for being incredibly slow moving, is the answer to fitness in a fast world.
Although seen as an exercise predominantly for older people, tai chi masters are keen to show people that this is a practice for everyone – whatever age, sex, weight, or fitness level.
According to tai chi master Arthur Rosenfeld, tai chi is not about competing, winning, or reaching physical goals as so many exercises are. It is about how the body feels and works – not how it looks.
Arthur, who is the author of a new book entitled ‘Tai Chi – The Perfect Exercise: Finding Health, Happiness, Balance, and Strength’, cites a number of studies into the health benefits of tai chi. These range from improving balance and increasing attention span, to strengthening the immune system and easing the symptoms of insomnia, asthma and arthritis.
While tai chi is not a cardio workout, it does involve slow, strong circular movements which cultivate a new level of body-awareness as well as gradually increasing flexibility.
Tai chi incorporates a lot of circular and spiralling motions, which mimic movements we see in nature, including orbiting galaxies and water draining down a plughole.
Jessica Matthews, physiologist and spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise says there are numerous studies showing that tai chi can even increase bone density, strengthen the lower body, boost endurance levels and ease depression.
Many ancient therapies focus on the mind and the surrounding environment as much as the physical movement itself. To find out more about the alternative therapies available, please visit our Therapy Topics page.
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