Why Tai Chi Is Great for Seniors of All Ages
At Freedom Square of Seminole, we take every opportunity to enhance the quality of life for our residents. This goal leads us to research the best recipes for meals, the most interesting and fun outings in the area, and the most beneficial fitness routines for seniors. Our fitness instructors have discovered a variety of great workouts to add to our class schedules, but few practices can compete with the benefits of tai chi for seniors.
What Is Tai Chi?
Tai chi is an ancient form of martial arts that consists of slow, controlled movements paired with deep breathing. Sometimes called “meditation in motion” or “moving mediation,” the goal of tai chi is to harness your “chi” or “qi,” meaning “life force.” Each focused movement helps move energy through the body, and as practitioners add breath work to the physical flow, they feel a body-to-spirit connection that helps bring a sense of peace and renewal.
Where Does It Come From?
The venerable practice began in China, but its exact history remains a bit of a mystery. It’s believed that a Taoist monk named Zhang Sanfeng developed the martial art in the 12th century. Since its inception, five different styles of tai chi have emerged: Chen-style, Yang-style, Wu-style, Sun-style and Hao-style. Yang-style and Sun-style are the most popular styles of tai chi for seniors because they emphasize big, graceful movements performed at a slow tempo.
What Are the Benefits of Tai Chi for Seniors?
Because it combines meditative practices, deep breathing and physical exercise, tai chi is considered one of the best workouts to relieve stress.
Practicing tai chi involves all major muscle groups. While the slow movements will not produce the aerobic effect of many cardio workouts, the practice will train your muscles for better endurance, leading to a more toned physique.
Some of the most important outcomes of tai chi for seniors specifically are greater brain volume, slower progression of dementia, and greater abilities to multitask and make decisions.
This moving meditation can improve leg strength, range of motion and flexibility. Each of these components contributes to greater balance and stability, and therefore, increased fall prevention.
Less Anxiety and Depression
Whether due to the physical exertion or the mindful breath control, nearly every study on the topic has proven that tai chi can begin to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, even after only three months of consistent practice.
Tai chi practitioners report they have an easier time falling asleep, they stay asleep longer, and they sleep better.
Fewer Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Tai chi can reduce pain levels for people with this chronic condition. It also helps people with fibromyalgia feel they have more control over their symptoms, creating less anxiety around the condition.
Enhances Stability for People with Parkinson’s Disease
Moving meditation has been proven more effective than purely strength-building exercises or stretching for promoting greater strength and better balance for people living with Parkinson’s disease.
Less Arthritis Pain
Strengthening muscles during a low-impact practice makes tai chi one of the best forms of exercise for seniors to significantly reduce pain from osteoarthritis.
Better Lung Function for People with COPD
Tai chi may improve the quality of life for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and allow them to exercise more easily.
If you would like to know more about what sort of exercise classes are available at Freedom Square of Seminole and how we select and tailor workouts specifically for seniors, please reach out to us. A member of our staff would be happy to answer any questions you have.