It has long been considered that the ancient art of Tai Chi can generate quite a number of health benefits, so in recent scientific studies, the results were hardly surprising to many of us who perform this ancient Chinese form of martial and conditioning. Nonetheless, it is fascinating to know that this extremely popular exercise is revealing encouraging results under the close scrutiny of Western science. A clinical study published by the American Journal of Chinese Medicine in 2008, with a five-year follow-up revealed that people who’ve been practicing Tai Chi for this period of time recorded a meaningful reduction of aerobic capacity, in addition to having a smaller rise of body-fat ratio as opposed to sedentary subjects. Past researches on elderly participants performed by the same researchers show that Tai Chi also positively affects muscle flexibility and strength, especially thoracolumbar flexibility.

The mental focus and deep, diaphragmatic breathing done during Tai Chi practice help bring about a balance between the mind and body, and furthermore the benefits keep on accruing when it’s done in a long-term practice routine. Tai Chi is definitely an extraordinary form of low-intensity exercise that literally costs nothing, and entails very little study and participation. It can also be understood for its self-defense and martial art applications. In several cities throughout the world, a person doesn’t have to seek a class or group to practice Tai Chi. Just visiting a park on a weekend morning where you can see a group of people already practicing can help you get into it.

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2007 published a study detailing the possible potential benefits one can get from practicing Tai Chi. They include better psychological wellbeing and health, improved balance, lower blood-pressure, better sleep, and lower depression, tension, and anxiety (gained from the elevated production of noradrenaline and reduce salivary cortisol following Tai Chi).

After breaking my left ankle in 2001, I began to take an interest in Tai Chi. I read books about it and weeks after having my cast removed, started attending a Tai Chi class. It proved to be a very good way of restoring my balance, flexibility, and strength in a gentle way minus the jolting impact that is typical of other types of exercise. To this day, I’ve continued this practice which I find to be extremely relaxing, useful in alleviating stress, and in maintaining my wellbeing and health. Setting aside 30 to 40 minutes of your time to practice Tai Chi can do wonders when it comes to increasing your function and to help you enjoy life; in addition, it will allow you to live with plentiful energy and a clear mind.

Amy-SuiQun Lui, L.Ac. is a Board Certified and Licensed Acupuncturist in Cleveland, OH.