Tai Chi: Relaxation Technique and Weight-Loss Aid

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Tai Chi has become an increasingly popular form of exercise for all age groups, but current research has shown how it can be especially beneficial for older individuals.  This graceful sequence of gentle, flowing movement combines physical postures with mindful focus, making it a great fit for those who find other forms of exercise too strenuous.

But Tai Chi isn't only used for relaxation purposes--it may also be a useful exercise for those working toward weight loss.  In a study that observed obese postmenopausal women, the subjects that participated in three 45-minute Tai Chi classes a week lost similar amounts of body fat as the diet-only group, but maintained greater muscle mass (meaning that the group lost less muscle or fat-free mass as a result of dieting). 

Additionally, several studies have suggested that postmenopausal women who regularly do Tai Chi may maintain a greater level of bone mineral density than women who don't include that type of exercise in their routine.  One study in particular found that Tai Chi practitioners have a higher lumbar and femur bone mineral density than people of a similar age who are sedentary.  As a result of these and other studies in this field, Tai Chi has been proposed as a good alternative to other types of exercise for women with low bone mineral density, as it also improves balance and has low risk of injury.

The basic foundation of Tai Chi consists of a rhythmic sequence of movements that integrate focused breathing and mindfulness to help reduce stress and reach a state of calm energy.   The intensity of the practice depends on the type of Tai Chi as well as level of expertise. There are many styles to choose from to fit a wide range of physical abilities.  The main focus in Tai Chi is on improving form, not attaining great strength or cardio gains, so even people who are not fit can take part in this type of exercise.  The melding of focused breathing with each movement creates a relaxing, tension-decreasing state that can last far beyond the duration of the exercise period.

Key Benefits of Tai Chi:
-Requires no equipment
-Improves balance
-Helps reduce anxiety and depression
-May reduce fall risk in older individuals
-Improves endurance and agility
-May help lower blood pressure
-Can improve mental focus and well-being
-Improves sleep quality
-May improve bone mineral density
-Helps to maintain muscle mass during weight loss

What's great about Tai Chi is that nearly anyone can practice it and work at their own pace and ability.  The gentle movement allows even those with joint and strength issues to safely take part in a Tai Chi program.  The Arthritis Association promotes Tai Chi as a beneficial exercise for those with arthritis, and offers Tai Chi classes in many areas. You can check out what's available near you by clicking here.

for DVDs that offer great instruction specifically for women who would like to learn Tai Chi, click here.

Would you be interested in trying Tai Chi? If you already do Tai Chi, how has it helped you?

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OLDSKOOL556 2/20/2021
Thanks friend sharing👍 article Report
GRAMMYD11 2/20/2021
Thank you I am going to find one on zoom Report
DEE107 2/12/2021
thanks Report
CECELW 12/29/2020
prayer works for me Report
OLDSKOOL556 10/24/2020
Thanks for sharing article 👍 Report
Some good beginner Tai Chi videos on YouTube. I started a couple of weeks ago and am beginning to see a difference with my knee/hip/lower back pain. This article makes me realize this is something I need to stick with! Report
CORRIEC2 10/24/2020
Thank you Report
KITTYHAWK1949 10/24/2020
I think I'd like this better than yoga as you stand instead of getting down on mat Report
I love Tai Chi. The first time a saw a demonstration of the power of Tai Chi, a 65 yr old man, 2 weeks out of a quad bypass, hit a 150lb heavy bag from less than 3", and bent it with the force. Since then I have come to know Tai Chi for graceful movement, meditation, stretching, balance, and energy flow. Tai Chi has many styles and practices. Find the right style and teacher that meets your needs. Report
ROBBIEY 4/17/2020
Thanks Report
I have tried to chi I like it (y never knew it was a martial arts event. Would like to go back to it Report
I have been considering trying Tai Chi for a while now. This makes me want to try it today. Report
Going to try and get my son doing this. He does Tae Kwon Do but he's put on some winter weight that isn't healthy. This would benefit us both Report
I do Tai Chi and love it! Report
Great method. Report
Better than meditation Report
Thanks. Great information. Report
Thanks! Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
I am willing to give this one a try! Report
Thanks! Report
Thank you. Report
Excellent Report
Great article Report
I love my tai chi dvd and enjoy doing it at home. I can see lots
of benefits. Report
I've been practicing t'ai chi for more than fifteen years, and it's very good exercise. Great for balance, and also calming and centering.

And it's not a religion. It's just exercise. Report
This is something I want to try. Report
Oh, yes. I like it. Report
I would definitely be interested in finding a class near me!
I love Tai Chi! Report
The link for finding classes near by seems to be unavailable or broken. Report
I would be very interested if there were a place near my home that I could attend. Report
I have been in a Tai Chi class since March 2013. It has helped with my balance. However, due to arthritis, I usually end up doing a good part of it from a chair which provides much upper body movement. I have one dvd and plan on purchasing one from "yang" Tai Chi which is the version I have been learning at the YMCA. Report
Tai Chi is my favorite form of exercise. I started at Gilda's club while I was in my cancer recovery phase. Now that I've moved to Oakland I need to find a new class to join (preferably free). Report
I think I would love to try tai chi. I will have to buy a dvd so that I can practice it. Report
I have always thought this was so graceful and beautiful. Now I'm seeing that is different levels for healing, seniors, women, and more martial arts. As I have relaxation issues plus a bad back this just might be the right exercises for me! I am so glad you put this up. Mu husband took it years ago and it is something we could do together. Report
I have always thought this was so graceful and beautiful. Now I'm seeing that is different levels for healing, seniors, women, and more martial arts. As I have relaxation issues plus a bad back this just might be the right exercises for me! I am so glad you put this up. Mu husband took it years ago and it is something we could do together. Report
i will try this. it looks so relaxing Report
I wish they would have put some excerises on here for us to try and see what it is. Report
I have been doing Tai-chi since the late 1960's, including slow forms, animal forms, push hands, the self defense aspects (Tai-chi-Chuan) and a form of chi-gung exercise called "Zookinesis Age Reversal Exercises". I find it is the Zookinesis that keeps me really fit because it works every joint and muscle and keeps the connective tissue elastic.

All of the Tai-chi practices allow me to be calm and centered under stress. The animal forms are a lot of fun to do and the push hands exercise ( a two person interaction) allows me to be aware of and let go of patterns of tension. And that frees up a lot of energy. Report
I would definitely love to try Tai Chi. Report
I often think I would like to try it. Thanks for the DVD info. Report
Poster #4 seems to have an impression that Tai-Chi is a religion! Couldn't be more off track. Several religious groups have adopted varieties of Tai-Chi, but the basic practice is actually more military than worship. I love it; it's a great way to get into touch with one's self and become more fully integrated as a physical person. Report
Feel like I need Tai Chi, but must combine with something I can do at home. Report
I have a beginner's guide to Tai Chi and keep forgetting to use it. I will bring it out and use it after reading this promising article. Will also check out more DVD's if it seems to help me. Report
I want to do Tai Chi because of the many health benefits that come with it. It is also one of the few exercise programs that would be gentle enough on my back for me to do. I am having a problem with finding the right program/DVD. I would love any suggestions on where to find a good Tai Chi program/ DVD. Report
Used to do Tai Chi, hosting the classes in a loft we lived in, but the teacher was a Master from China and had little patience with those of us who couldn't perfect our technique. Did enjoy it: the steady breathing and being so aware of the movement of your body through space. It is a lovely form of exercise and I wouldn't mind getting back to it. Thanks for the reminder...and the link to the DVD. Report
I've learned the first level of Tai Chi...years ago. Reading this article, I will get back into it.
The feeling while you're doing it is inexplicable! After, you realise you've had a good workout, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Thanks for reminding me.