There is strong evidence that the mind-body practice of tai chi, which originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health problems. “A growing body of carefully conducted research presents a compelling case for tai chi as an adjunct to standard medial treatment for the prevention and rehabilitation of many conditions commonly associated with aging,” Says Peter M. Wayne, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Tai Chi and Mind-Body Research Program at the Harvard Osher Research Center. When combined with standard treatment, tai chi has been shown to be helpful for a variety of medical conditions including arthritis, low bone density, breast cancer, heart disease, heart failure, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and sleep problems. Another example of exercise as medicine.
Tai chi differs from other types of exercise in several aspects. The movements are usually circular and never forced, the muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, the joints are not fully extended or flexed, and connective tissues are not stretched. Tai chi can be easily adapted for anyone, from the most fit to those confined to a wheelchair or recovering from surgery.
For more in-depth information on tai chi and how to implement the practice into your fitness training – check out the Arthritis Foundation approved and DSWFitness CE course, Tai Chi for Arthritis by Dr. Paul Lam.