8 Reasons to try tai chi

8 Reasons to try tai chi

A martial art that comes from China, tai chi has many unexpected benefits. Susannah Hickling shares eight reasons to try tai chi

Tai chi is good for both body and mind

Tai chi is a gentle martial art that originated in China. It’s called “meditation in motion”, because it involves slow movements with a focus on breathing and on what your body is doing in that moment. You can go at your own pace. 

It’s easy on the body

Tai chi is suitable for all ages and levels of fitness. It is low-impact, meaning there is minimal risk of damage to your joints. Muscles are relaxed and there is no stretching or straining. It’s an exercise that can be easily adapted for less able people, including those in wheelchairs. 

Tai chi

It could prevent falls

A 2019 review of studies suggested that tai chi might reduce the risk of falls in older people. Certainly, the emphasis is on balance, with sideways and backwards movements helping to strengthen muscles required for good stability. It also improves flexibility and spatial awareness. 

It may reduce pain

A small body of research indicates that practising tai chi on a regular basis can help alleviate knee osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and lower back pain. 

Tai chi compares with brisk walking and resistance training

This might be difficult to believe, as tai chi is so slow and smooth, but it can improve both upper-body strength, thanks to the unsupported arm movements it involves, and lower-body strength when practised regularly. 

It may boost brain power

Benefits aren’t just physical. Studies have found that regular tai chi can improve cognitive functioning in older people with dementia and without. Given that it’s considered safe and suitable for the elderly, this is a definite win. 

It has the feel-good factor

A reduction in stress and anxiety, and increased confidence are other mental health benefits of tai chi, according to research, though further research is needed. 

You can do it at home

Classes are useful not just for teaching the movements but also for meeting like-minded people. But there are videos available online too—you’re bound to find one that matches your fitness level and exercise preferences. 

Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter