Updated March 12, 2014.
The ancient martial art of tai chi uses gentle flowing movements to connect the mind and body. It is often described as “movement meditation” or “active meditation” because of the mind-body connection. Over time tai chi has evolved into a graceful form of exercise because of it’s stress reducing properties and it’s ability to help with a variety of other health conditions.
There are many studies showing the benefits of tai chi for the elderly, especially for balance, strength and coordination. One recent clinical study conducted in Oregon went further by demonstrating the benefits of tai chi for sufferers of Parkinson’s Disease. The study was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.
Benefits of Tai Chi: Balance and Posture
The clinical study showed that practicing tai chi on a regular basis can improve the balance and posture problems associated with the disease. From Chicago’s Daily Herald:
In this study, 195 participants with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease were randomly divided into three groups: tai chi, resistance training or simply stretching. The program consisted of 60-minute sessions, twice-a-week for a total of 24 weeks.
Although resistance training was better than stretching, those in the tai chi group did significantly better than either the resistance training or stretching groups in almost all parameters including reducing falls. The benefits of tai chi were still seen at least three months after completion of the study.
Over half a million people in the United States are estimated to have Parkinson’s, with another 50,000 new cases diagnosed each year. The disease is characterized by balance problems, tremors, slow walking and stiff facial expressions when the area of the brain that supplies dopamine essentially begins to die.
Although research does not suggest that tai chi slows the progression of the disease, this data suggests Parkinson’s patients can benefit significantly from regularly practicing tai chi.
Do you practice tai chi? What benefits of tai chi have you found since you began? Please tell us about it using the comment box below!