Have you ever seen a group of people performing tai chi in a park? At first, the movements may have looked unfamiliar and a bit funny – but if you kept watching, you likely appreciated the beauty in the dance-like exercise. Tai chi is sometimes called “meditation in motion,” and it’s easy to see how the practice could feel calming and restorative. During tai chi, participants go through a flowing series of motions without stopping. But despite the slow speed and unforced motions, tai chi can be enormously beneficial. Scroll down to explore the many benefits of tai chi for seniors.
The Benefits of Tai Chi for Seniors
Gain Muscle Strength
Because tai chi doesn’t involve weights or resistance bands and focuses on slow movements, many people underestimate its ability to improve muscle strength and definition. However, tai chi uses body weight and gravity to strengthen both the upper and lower body as well as the core muscles in the back and abdomen. Although the movements are slow, they must flow together and require more strength than you might realize. Tai chi strengthens both your muscles and your bones.
Improve Flexibility & Balance
Many seniors struggle with flexibility and balance, which can increase their risk of suffering from a dangerous fall. By gently leading you through different poses, tai chi can increase both flexibility and balance. You can easily adapt the movements to fit your current abilities and then increase the difficulty as you gain confidence in your flexibility and balance. Plus, some studies have found that tai chi reduces the fear of falling, which can make a person less likely to fall.
Increase Energy & Aerobic Capacity
Although this will vary based on the incorporated movements and speed, tai chi can provide aerobic benefits as well. These include improved aerobic capacity, increased energy, and higher stamina. These benefits are modest, however, similar to the benefits produced by a walk, so if you’re looking for a more intense aerobic activity, you may need to explore other cardio workouts. Discuss your goals with your doctor or a personal trainer for some personalized advice.
Like almost all exercises, tai chi is a great way to boost your mood. Especially if you choose to practice tai chi outdoors in the fresh air, you’ll likely walk away with an uplifted spirit. So, if you’re struggling to build up the motivation to do tai chi, just think about how great you’ll feel afterward!
Lower Stress Levels
Although it was originally developed as a form of self-defense, these days many people practice tai chi to reduce their stress levels. With its flowing movements and focused poses, which are often accompanied by deep breathing, tai chi is a great way to de-stress and relax. As we mentioned above, you can likely increase these benefits by practicing tai chi outdoors, where you’ll enjoy the advantages of spending time in nature as well. So, when the weather allows for it, head to your backyard or a local park to practice tai chi.
Tai chi can be adapted to almost anyone, including people who use a wheelchair or are recovering from surgery. So why not give it a try? Before you know it, you may be enjoying the many benefits of tai chi for seniors.
Is living an active, healthy lifestyle important to you? Be sure to check out The Gables on Pelham, a continuing care retirement community that welcomes seniors from all walks of life. We offer flexible and personalized care, including assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and rehabilitation. You’ll love our cozy accommodations, fun-filled events calendar, and welcoming community atmosphere. To learn more, please schedule a tour or give us a call at 864-713-1377.