Wellness for the elderly with Tai chi, everything you need to know

words Al Woods

Tai chi tips

Understanding Tai chi

An ancient art form that originated in China, Tai chi is also a type of exercise that focuses on improving overall wellness, control over the body, and achieving mental and emotional serenity by integrating the body and the mind. It has been proven many times before that practicing tai chi every day can reduce blood pressure and help with the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s. Tai chi also helps ease any pain caused by arthritis and improves the body’s overall balance, strength, and flexibility. Requiring just a few minutes of practice every day, Tai chi is the perfect exercise for seniors to stay healthy, strong, and happy.

How can Tai chi help the seniors?

Tai chi for seniors is fast becoming a popular exercise. When aimed at this age group, the leader choreographs slow movements with footwork, through which each person learns how to inhale and exhale correctly while they move. The participant has to focus on each movement, which relaxes their mind, thereby relieving stress, which leaves them feeling calmer and more energetic by the end of each session. Focusing on each movement and footwork also helps the participant to improve their balance and overall body strength.

Benefits of Tai chi for seniors

Tai chi has a lot to offer to the elderly participants. Some of the benefits include,

  • It strengthens the core muscles in the legs thereby increasing flexibility, stability, and overall balance, which in turn reduces the number of falls among the seniors.
  •  Helps reduce back pain by improving core strength.
  • Prolonged and regular practice of tai chi may also improve immunity.
  •  For senior participants suffering from chronic and fatal illnesses like cancer, it has been found that the overall strength and function increases with regular practice of tai chi.
  •  Considerable reduction in bone-loss has been found amongst women after menopause
  •  Relives arthritis pain
  •  Reduces blood pressure
  •  Stroke and cardiac patients recover faster
  •  Drastic improvements in patients with Multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s
  •  Reduces weight and stress
  •  Helps in self-defense
  •  Improves concentration and cognitive skills, anxiety, and depression
  •  Reduces falls
  •  Improves the conditions of participants suffering from illnesses like breast cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure, osteoarthritis, etc

Getting started

Getting started with tai chi is as easy as deciding to learn it. You can start your session the very same day once the decision has been made. The following are a few simple things that you will need to getting started with tai chi,

1.      Shoes:

There are three varieties of shoes that are designed for tai chi,

  • Cloth slippers for indoors
  • Low profile athletic shoes for outdoors
  • Cloth shoe with rubber soles for both indoors and outdoors.

Unlike other types of sneakers and sports shoes, these shoes are specifically designed to allow you to rotate without stressing your knees.

A Tai chi shoe must have the following specifications,

  • They must be flexible and comfortable
  • Be shock absorbent
  •  Have thin soles and be light
  •  Must be able to provide balance

2.      Clothes:

You need clothes that are comfortable enough for tai chi. Your clothes must not restrict your movements in any way and should allow your body to move freely. There are pants and robes designed specifically for tai chi which are ideal but not mandatory to practice basic tai chi.

3.      Weapons:

Although redundant for practicing basic tai chi, learning tai chi with the intent of learning self-defense, however, would require some sort of weapons like a saber, sword, and spears.

Once you have everything that you need, begin with,

  • Finding a tai chi instructor: It is always a good idea to find yourself an instructor who knows the art well before you start your training. You can find an instructor by checking online, in senior centers, fitness facilities in your locality, or tai chi centers.
  • Observe the class first: take time to simply watch and observe the class first. This will give you time to see what you are getting into before actually committing to it.
  • Check online: you can also start orienting yourself with tai chi by watching some tai chi videos online. YouTube has a good collection of different tai chi moves.

To conclude,

Tai chi is a gentle and effective form of exercise that offers several advantages to elderly people who have limited capabilities. Besides being engaging, entertaining, and calming, it allows them to function better and improve their health in a gentle and safe manner.

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