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Benefits of Tai-Chi

DOMINIQUE KOHLENBERGER
Contributing Columnist
dkohlenberger@lbknews.com

Originating in ancient China, Tai-chi is a form of Martial Art that has been scientifically proven to be an exercise form that has significant health benefits.

About 300 million people around the world practice the slow, fluid flowing circular motions to aide concentration, increase flexibility and muscle strength, improve posture and  integrate mind and body to reduce stress.

The basics are safe, easy to learn and can be practiced almost everywhere while it is also inexpensive. There are 5 different styles of Tai -Chi but the Sun (pronounced Soong) style is the most conducive for patients with arthritis or for those who are at risk for falls. In 1997 Dr . Paul Lam, a family physician  from Sydney Australia, who suffered from arthritis at an early age, developed with a team of medical  and Tai-chi experts a twelve movement Tai-Chi program specifically for arthritis patients.

The “Central Sydney Tai Chi Trial “ is one of the largest controlled studies, published in the Journal of American Geriatric Society in August 2007, to prove that Dr. Lam’s version of Tai-chi  significantly reduced the the risk of multiple falls by 70% after a 16 week practice and learning of  the specific “Tai-Chi For Arthritis” program. And is therefore an effective and sustainable public health intervention for falls prevention. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17661956

Other large studies have indicated that Tai Chi relieves arthritis pain, improves reach, balance and well-being: www.med.unc.edu/www/newsarchive/2010/november/study-tai-chi-relieves-arthritis-pain-improves-reach-balance-well-being/

The major component why Tai-Chi has all these scientifically proven health benefits is because Tai Chi involves a variety of movements that work on all aspects of your fitness and well-being including:

1. FLEXIBILITY: stiff arthritic joints are difficult to move. Tai-Chi gently moves all the joints, muscles and tendons within a pain-free range and within your comfort level.

2. STRENGTH: the slow controlled movements of Tai Chi build up muscle strength in your legs, arms and trunk.

3. STAMINA: regular practice of Tai Chi improves the blood and oxygen supply circulating through your body thus improving your cardio-vascular fitness not by huffing and puffing but through concentration and sustaining certain postures.

4. POSTURE: Tai Chi focuses on an upright posture throughout the entire work out. Proper alignment of the spine, while opening your lungs for proper oxygen supply, are part of every formation.

5. COORDINATION and BALANCE exercises help integrate the way your body moves in everyday activities. With good balance and coordination you can perform tasks of every day living more efficiently and you are less likely to fall. Tai Chi incorporates simultaneously arm and leg movements to challenge coordination and  balance.

6. MIND -BODY TECHNIQUES. The power of the mind can heal the body. Feelings of stress and depression are common signs of arthritis. Tai Chi integrates mind and body using the conscious mind to direct the internal force that, in turn, directs each movement. The focus and concentration needed to practice Tai Chi enhances the clarity of your mind, releases stress and uplifts your mood.

According to Chinese medicine arthritis is the result of a weak and sluggish flow of Qi ( chi =energy) through the meridians.  The slow and gentle movements of Tai Chi will open the channels of energy flow and the rhythmic movements of the muscles, joints and spine pump energy through the entire body resulting in a decrease of inflammation throughout your entire system.  Dr. Paul Lam’s program has been endorsed by the Arthritis Foundation of Australia, UK and USA.

This coming season, from October through April, several Arthritis/ Falls Prevention Tai Chi work shops will be held in Longboat Key. For specific information regarding these work shops please contact Dominique Kohlenberger at dkohlenberger@lbknews.

Dominique Kohlenberger has a masters degree in Physical Therapy; is a Certified Health Coach, President of the Stroke Association of Florida and owner of Healthy Longevity on Longboat Key.

 

 

 

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2 Responses for “Benefits of Tai-Chi”

  1. Diane Hoagland says:

    Are Tai Chi classes being offered now and in April?

    D

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