Thai chi is often referred to as ‘meditation in motion’ as it is a gentle form of exercise that helps build strength and improve flexibility and balance. The best thing about tai chi is that absolutely anyone can start martial art and it can be adapted for all needs, such as people in wheelchairs or people who are recently recovering from surgery. It is a low-impact exercise that comes with many benefits. Here are 5 health benefits of tai chi that everyone needs to know about.
1. Increased Muscle Strength
One of the most well-known health benefits of tai chi is that it increases your muscle strength. It is a full-body workout and so it builds muscle in both the lower and upper body. If you are someone who struggles with aches and pains in your muscles then tai chi can be used to help you and to reduce muscle pain as the martial acts to soothe those acts as it slowly builds your strength.
While your heart is unlikely to be racing you will still feel the effects of your tai chi session later on. Some people have compared tai chi to resistance training as they build muscle similarly. When practiced regularly, you will start to feel your abdomen and the muscles in your back becoming much stronger.
2. Increased Flexibility, Balance, And Mobility
With stronger core muscles in your abdomen and your back, you will find that you have better balance. So if you think you are someone who is generally quite unbalanced then this sport will help you to get more control over your body. What’s more, practicing tai chi regularly helps increase your flexibility and mobility due to the different stretches you do. This is especially useful if you are getting older and research has shown that tai chi helps proprioception, which is your ability to understand the space your body takes up.
3. Boost Your Cognitive Function
This third point will come as a surprise to a lot of people but believe it or not practicing tai chi helps to improve cognitive function. The reality is that you are unlikely to be too bothered about cognitive decline unless you are older, however, it is important to understand the effects that tai chi can have on your brain’s cognitive function.
In America, roughly 40% of older adults experience some form of cognitive impairment, for instance, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and milder forms of memory loss. Cognitive impairment can occur at any age, so there is benefit in taking up tai chi now not just as a way to improve your physical wellbeing but your mental wellbeing too.
There has been a lot of research that shows the benefits of exercise to cognitive function and the mistake people make there is in assuming this means running or going to the gym. Exercise simply means any form of physical activity, so exercises such as tai chi, yoga, and pilates are all very effective and not as impactful on your joints and bones as exercises such as running.
4. It Improves Sleep Quality
It is no secret that regular exercise improves how easily you fall asleep and the quality of sleep that you achieve. In 2016, there was a pilot trial that found practicing tai chi improved the quality of sleep, sleep efficiency, and mental health of adults who experienced some level of cognitive impairment.
The importance of these findings should not be underestimated as more than 25% of older adults with cognitive impairment also struggle with impaired sleep. So there has been a lot of research and effort being placed into finding non-pharmacological approaches to help individuals with their sleep.
Too often it can be easy to turn to medications to ease sleep but this is more effective when combined with exercise or even by using exercise alone. Regardless of age or gender, the importance of good sleep is profound as it can impact our everyday lives. Increased quality of sleep is linked to better mental health and increased motivation and productivity in both a personal and professional context.
There is more to tai chi than people realize and if you are looking for a low-intensity exercise that will benefit your strength, flexibility, mobility, balance, cognitive function and sleep quality then look no further as practicing tai chi regularly will give you all that and more. You do not have to be a crazy fit athlete to start tai chi and it can be adapted for anyone, so don’t let anxiety hold you back from unlocking all these wonderful health benefits.