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The Health Benefits of Tai Chi For Seniors and How to Get Started

by Frank Herold
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Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese practice widely recognized as a form of fitness with several health-promoting aspects. This makes it suitable for seniors seeking to maintain a healthy life without engaging in vigorous exercise. Here's more about the health benefits of Tai Chi and how seniors can get started.

Related Blog: 6 Best Exercises for Seniors

An Introduction to Tai Chi 

Tai Chi is a mind-body exercise that's rooted in Asian traditions. It's a practice that combines the mind, breathing, and movements to create a sense of calmness and balance. It helps clear the mind and reduces stress by concentrating on your movements. 

There are five different styles of Tai Chi. These differences come from the pace, rhythm of the movements, and body posture. These types of Tai Chi include: 

  1. Yang Style: This style involves gentle, even, and large exaggerated movements. This makes it a suitable workout for seniors. 
  2. Chen Style: This style involves explosive movements, such as jumping, kicking, and stomping, suitable for cardio workouts. However, it's unsuitable for the elderly due to its vigorous movements. 
  3. Wu/Hao Style: This style combines the Yang and Chen styles. Its routine involves smaller frames with high posture and slow, smooth movements. 
  4. Wu Style: This style emphasizes extending the body forward and backward, with the back leg as a counterbalance. It's suitable for seniors without back or knee issues. 
  5. Sun Style: This is the gentlest Tai Chi style. It mimics a graceful dance that incorporates circular hand movement and fluid footwork. It's the best physical therapy for seniors. 

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How Can Tai Chi Help Seniors 

1. Improved Balance 

The slow, flowing Tai Chi movements train you to shift your body weight while maintaining balance. This helps improve seniors' balance and lower their risk of falling and suffering from fractures. 

2. Reduces Risks of High Blood Pressure 

The slow, even Tai Chi movements don't stress the body. Therefore, it's a suitable option for seniors with high blood pressure who want to participate in simple physical exercises. 

3. Improves Physical Strength 

Tai Chi's gentleness doesn't mean it doesn't build muscles. Its subtle movement engages the leg muscles, arms, and back, making it a suitable low-impact method to improve your physical strength. 

4. Reduces Stress 

Tai Chi involves deep breathing that brings the body tranquility. Therefore, seniors in this practice experience a better mood free from anxiety, stress, or depression. 

5. Builds a Sense of Community 

Tai Chi is usually a group activity that involves a couple of people. Therefore, when seniors engage in this practice as a group, they can bond and share their experiences. This practice also requires total silence, meaning no cell phones are allowed, providing the best opportunity to socialize and make new friends. 

How to Get Started in Tai Chi for Seniors

Before you engage in Tai Chi, you need to warm up to improve your balance and work on your leg muscles. Some of the best practices you engage in are as follows: 

Leg Warmup 

  1. Stand apart with the legs a bit wider from the hip distance and shift your weight from right to left as you rest your arms on the hips. 
  2. Shift about 70% of your body to one leg and switch it to the other.
  3. Repeat this movement at least three times.

Torso Twists 

  1. Place your hands on your hips to avoid moving your body from the hip. 
  2. Take a deep breath and feel whether your spine is growing longer. While exhaling, gently twist your torso as you keep your knees above your ankles while they're equally bent. 
  3. Use your breath to determine your movement and twist at least five times on both sides. 

At Sarasota Bay Club, we offer our residents several health and wellness activities, such as Tai Chi. Schedule a tour today to learn more about our services and what our independent living community offers. 

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