Tai Chi, a mind-body relaxation exercise, was devised by Chang San Feng for meditation and self-defense in the thirteenth century A.D. The 108 forms are performed in a slow relaxed manner, taking 30 minutes altogether. Tai Chi is a gentle system of traditionally standing group exercise that integrates breathing and rhythmic movements to achieve a conditioning effect. Tai Chi has been shown to have many benefits for seniors. In this article we’ll explore the topic a bit more.
What Is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi originated as a form of martial arts but now has multiple forms and styles that have been adapted from the original form. Whereas Tai Chi was traditionally used in sports and competition, more recently Tai Chi has been advocated to have multiple medical benefits. The largest body of research about Tai Chi focuses on fall risk benefits.
Tai Chi involves learning multiple poses that are linked together with slow movements that emphasize control and balance. These routines or “forms” can range from the classic 109 postures to as few as 42. The focus required to complete the movements and postures and recalling the sequence of postures has been credited with both the mental calm and the cognitive benefits associated with Tai Chi. Improvement in balance and decreased fall risk are attributed to the slow repetitive work and the emphasis on control and coordination especially at the ankle.
Tai Chi Benefits On Sleep For Seniors
There are many studies on the benefits of Tai Chi for older adults. In a clinical trial studying the effects of Tai Chi and sleep quality, 62 older subjects aged older than 65 years were studied for a 12 week period. Tai Chi was found to have a significant impact of sleep quality. Below are more details about the study.
- The intervention was the Tai Chi Exercise sessions were held three times per week for 12 weeks.
- Duration of exercise was 5 minutes at first session which gradually increased to 20 to 25 minutes by the midpoint of intervention.
- The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index was used for pre and post evaluation of older adult sleep quality.
- In the Tai Chi group sleep quality was improved significantly.
- The conclusion indicated that the Tai Chi Exercise can have a significant effect on sleep quality in older adult.
Tai Chi Benefits On Balance For Seniors
Another study that focused on Tai Chi and both function and balance found that Tai Chi warrants further study as an exercise treatment to improve the health of older people. Below were some benefits identified:
- Lowered blood pressure
- Reduced fear of falling
- Reduction of risk of multiple falls by 47.5%
Other Benefits Of Tai Chi For Seniors
Additional studies have found the Tai Chi shows benefits for older adults in the following areas:
- Fibromyalgia and an increase in quality of life score.
- Cardiorespiratory function
- Immune capacity
- Mental control
- Balance control
- Muscle strength
- Stress reduction
Orchard at Brookhaven is a senior living community in Atlanta that understands the benefits of alternative exercise programs for our residents. Tai Chi is just one of the programs we offer to promote health benefits and living well as we age. Please contact us for more information or to schedule a tour of our community.