Tai Chi is one of the most popular ways to get fit. It focuses mainly on martial arts movements, meditation, and complete body awareness. Unlike conventional strength training, tai chi is much gentler. While it’s not as exhausting as weight lifting, it has a number of similar benefits.
There is a Japanese study that compared muscular strength in older adults. One group was assigned to tai chi. Another group was assigned to brisk walking activity. The third group was assigned to resistance training. The study revealed that the tai chi group saw 30% improvement in lower body strength and 25% in arm strength than those in the brisk walking and strength training group.
2. Enhanced Balance and Flexibility
The nature of tai chi allows it to train your balance and flexibility. Some studies have looked into this. As tai chi increases muscular strength, it also improves balance and flexibility. For this reason, tai chi is one of the best fitness programs for middle-aged people and seniors. Our balance and coordination decline with age, but we can slow down this decline, even reverse it, with proper training.
3. Cardiovascular Fitness
While cardio workout is still superior in this department, tai chi does have its cardiovascular benefits. Because it’s not as intense and physically demanding as cardio or high-intensity interval training, it carries low risk of injuries. A study done in Taiwan found that tai chi does not only increase physical fitness but also improve blood pressure and lower triglycerides and cholesterol. These things are responsible for the development of heart disease. Another study conducted at Harvard Medical School showed that 12 weeks of tai chi can reduce the levels of a certain type of protein that determines one’s risk of heart failure.
One study presented at an American College of Rheumatology in 2008 showed that tai chi improved the physical functioning and lessened discomfort in people with severe knee osteoarthritis. Moreover, it showed that the improvement was more than the improvement experienced by people doing standard stretching only.
Another Korean study published in 2008 also showed that tai chi improved flexibility and slowed down the progress of a type of arthritis that affects the spine.
5. Osteoporosis Prevention
Tai chi stimulates bones and muscles. The body’s reaction to this is making them stronger by either keeping or adding tissue mass. This is why people, who exercise, regardless of the type of exercise, tend to have stronger bones than people who don’t. Those who like low-impact exercise should try tai chi.
6. Improves Sleep
Tai chi helps people with sleep problems get a better quality of sleep at night. This is according to study done in the University of California and published in Sleep journal’s 2008 issue.