Tribune Print Share Text

Take tai chi classes for a normal life

Created date

July 14th, 2014
senior doing tai chi
senior doing tai chi

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art. It is considered a mind-body practice in which you slowly move your body while breathing deeply. As a particularly senior-friendly activity, it has been shown to increase muscle strength and flexibility, ease joint pain and stiffness, improve sleep, and decrease the risk of falls by improving balance. People who regularly take tai chi also report being in a good mood and feeling satisfied with life.

Now a new study suggests that along with these benefits, doing tai chi may help you live longer. Researchers found that study participants who engaged in tai chi for one year had a significant increase in a certain type of stem cell that spurs cell growth and renewal throughout your body. The study authors say that these stem cells may also help increase blood vessel flexibility and facilitate blood flow. Their findings were published  in the journal Cell Transplantation

This martial art is also currently being studied for other possible health benefits. Some experts believe that it may be beneficial for Parkinson’s disease, heart failure, fibromyalgia, depression, and other chronic diseases.  

Tai chi is safe and easy. Nevertheless, you should check with your doctor before beginning any activity program. In addition, you shouldn’t participate in a class right after eating, or if you have a hernia, fractures, or an acute illness such as an infection. It’s also wise to skip the class if you are very tired.

Keep in mind that tai chi instructors do not have to be licensed. There is no standard training program—instructors learn from a tai chi master. Therefore, look for classes offered at community senior centers or retirement communities where you are likely to find teachers who are experienced working with seniors.