Tai chi is a form of exercise that began as a Chinese tradition. It’s based in martial arts, and involves slow movements and deep breaths. Tai chi has many physical and emotional benefits. Some of the benefits of tai chi include decreased anxiety and depression and improvements in cognition. It may also help you manage symptoms of some chronic diseases, such as
Read on to learn more about the benefits and risks of tai chi, and how you can begin practicing this exercise.
One of the main benefits of tai chi is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety, though most evidence is anecdotal.
In 2018, one study compared the effects of tai chi on stress-related anxiety to traditional exercise. The study included 50 participants. The researchers found that tai chi provided the same benefits for managing stress-related anxiety as exercise. Because tai chi also includes meditation and focused breathing, the researchers noted that tai chi may be superior to other forms of exercise for reducing stress and anxiety. However, a larger-scale study is needed.
Tai chi is very accessible and lower impact than many other forms of exercise. The researchers found it to be safe and inexpensive, so it may be a good option if you are otherwise healthy and experiencing stress-related anxiety.
Tai chi may help improve your mood if you are depressed or anxious. Preliminary research suggests that regularly practicing tai chi can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. It’s believed that the slow, mindful breaths and movements have a positive effect on the nervous system and mood-regulating hormones. Further research is being done to establish a clear link between tai chi and improved mood.
Regularly practicing tai chi may help you to have more restful sleep.
Tai chi can improve sleep for older adults, too. In a
Regularly practicing tai chi can result in weight loss. One study tracked changes in weight in a group of adults practicing tai chi five times a week for 45 minutes. At the end of the 12 weeks, these adults lost a little over a pound without making any additional lifestyle changes.
Tai chi may improve cognition in older adults with cognitive impairment. More specifically, tai chi may help improve memory and executive functioning skills like paying attention and carrying out complex tasks.
Tai chi may compliment traditional methods for management of certain chronic diseases.
Results from a
Tai chi may improve some of the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In
In a randomized, controlled trial of 195 participants, regular practice of tai chi was found to decrease the number of falls in people with Parkinson’s disease. Tai chi can also help you to increase leg strength and overall balance.
- increase physical activity
- lose weight
- improve your quality of life
When compared to physical therapy, tai chi has also
Always talk to your doctor before starting tai chi if you have arthritis. You may need to do modified versions of some of the movements.
Is tai chi safe?
Tai chi is generally considered to be a safe exercise with few side effects. You may experience some aches or pains after practicing tai chi if you’re a beginner. More rigorous forms of tai chi and improper practice of tai chi are associated with increased risk of injury to joints. Especially if you’re new to tai chi, consider attending a class or working with an instructor to reduce your risk of injury.
If you’re pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise program.
How to start tai chi
Tai chi focuses on proper posture and exact movements, something that is difficult to learn on your own. If you’re new to tai chi, take a class or get an instructor.
Tai chi is taught in studios all over the United States and other countries. Larger gyms, like the YMCA, sometimes offer tai chi classes as well.
Choosing a tai chi style
There are five different styles of tai chi, and each style can be modified to suit your goals and personal fitness level. All styles of tai chi incorporate continuous movement from one pose to the next.
- Yang style tai chi focuses on slow, graceful movements and relaxation. Yang style is a good starting point for beginners.
- Wu style tai chi places an emphasis on micro-movements. This style of tai chi is practiced very slowly.
- Chen style tai chi uses both slow and fast movements. This style of tai chi might be difficult for you if you’re new to the practice.
- Sun style tai chi shares a lot of similarities with Chen style. Sun style involves less crouching, kicking, and punching, making it less physically demanding.
- Hao style tai chi is a lesser-known and rarely practiced style. This style of tai chi is defined by a focus on accurate position and internal strength.
How does tai chi differ from yoga?
Tai chi emphasizes fluid movement and has roots in Chinese culture. Yoga focuses on posing and originated in Northern India.
Both tai chi and yoga are forms of exercise that involve meditation and deep breathing, and they have similar benefits, such as:
- relieves stress
- improves mood
- Improves sleep
Tai chi is an exercise that can benefit both healthy adults and adults living with a chronic condition.
The benefits of tai chi include:
- better sleep
- weight loss
- improved mood
- management of chronic conditions
If you’re interested in trying tai chi, an instructor can help you get started. Classes are offered in specialized studios, community centers, and gyms.