Not long ago we posted news of a study suggesting that tai chi could help to prevent falls in the elderly. Well it would seem the ancient Chinese martial art has more than just that to offer as an even more recent study in this month’s British Journal of Sports Medicine has suggested that tai chi can also help to improve the mental health of older people. So what is it and how does it work?
Tai chi is thought to have been founded by Taoist monk, Chang San-Feng, who developed a series of exercises intended to mimic the fluidity, flexibility and strength of the crane and the snake.
When practised to obtain health benefits, movements are usually slow and continuous with the weight shifting from one half of the body to the other whilst the head and the body are rotated. The idea is to control your centre of gravity and breathe through the diaphragm. The outcome should be the development of good core strength and balance whilst releasing tension.
Individuals can benefit from as little as two one hour classes per week and obviously the more you do the more benefits you gain. It is weight bearing so can help to strengthen bones and it burns calories at approximately the same rate as a brisk walk.
According to the study featured in the British Journal of Sports Medicine which drew together evidence from 35 reviews, there is evidence which suggests tai chi can improve mental health and falls in the elderly.
In addition, though there is no concrete evidence as yet, experts also believe it can relieve arthhritis pain and stiffness, reduce high blood pressure and help with symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and cancer.
View the original Guardian article.