Tai chi is an ancient form of Chinese martial arts that has been practiced by people for centuries. Its popularity outside of its homeland has skyrocketed in the past few decades because of its numerous health benefits, especially for old people. Today we’ll be showing you some of the key reasons why tai chi has remained one of the first-choice exercises for older people across time and space.
Perfectly balanced, as all things should be. Such is the goal, anyway. Tai chi places a lot of emphasis on building the practitioner’s sense of central gravity, and gently increasing strength in core muscles. The movements are deliberately slow and focused to help with this and maintaining balance is one of the central aims of each form.
Consequently, tai chi has been known to improve people’s balance and help prevent falls. Falls are one of the most common causes of injuries in older people, so this improvement can greatly increase physical health.
2) Muscle strength
As mentioned above, tai chi is great for building up muscle strength, especially in the legs and lower body. As you get older more rigorous forms of exercise become too challenging to attempt, so gentler methods are needed. The slow, measured paces that tai chi adopts make it perfect for keeping the muscles active and strong without placing too much strain on the body.
3) Mental clarity
Tai chi is, as all martial arts, a mental exercise as well. It’s a commonly used in mediation.
During tai chi, ones need to be constantly aware and focused on the positions of their limbs, centre of balance, and breathing. These elements typically form part of meditation, which has been shown to have numerous positive benefits for the brain. Certain studies have demonstrated frequent and regular practice can increase memory and cognition.
4) Breathing and circulation
As well as improving mental acumen, tai chi is also of great benefit to the breathing and circulation of older people. Breathing exercises are a common part of each movement, which will improve lung capacity and the airways.
The relaxing, meditative state tai chi encourages is furthermore great at reducing stress. The lack of aggravation improves the blood flow by thinning the blood out a little, and keeping the pulse and blood temperature in check.
5) Better sleep
A relaxing exercise as it is, tai chi is an effective way of improving the quality of sleep in older people. The improved breathing, reduced stress, and effective work out the body gets all contribute towards a good night’s sleep.
The best thing about all of this is that these improvements build upon each other. By getting a good night’s sleep, further anxiety and stress is eliminated. Muscles and joints have more time to heal and strengthen. Breathing improves further. Mental clarity increases. So all this feeds into itself very effectively.
It’s something you’d expect from an exercise that involves lots of stretching, reaching and keeping track of where your limbs are, but tai chi improves flexibility as well. Research is still being conducted and has yet to produce conclusive findings, but anecdotes indicate that people who practice tai chi report less issue with stiff joints and muscles.
Subsequently, if you’re feeling a little rigid each morning, starting your day with tai chi can really help limber you up.
7) Improved posture
As it links well with flexibility, practitioners of tai chi also enjoy improved posture. A good posture translates into many other positive attributes, such as better breathing, better balance, better digestion and better circulation.
By exercising the body sufficiently and ensuring every position is met correctly, older people see vast improvements to their overall posture.
8) Improved life expectancy
It’s hard to see all the above benefits and not make the connection that, taken together, tai chi can also improve your lifespan. While the practice itself does very little, the cumulative improvements to various body functions will keep your body healthier for longer.
Furthermore, not only will you be living longer, but your body will be better maintained as well. So older people who practice tai chi truly do enjoy their increased lifespans.
Did you like this article? Check out our blog about the benefits of yoga for older people.
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