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Tai Chi/Qigong

Diverse group doing tai chi outdoors.

Tai Chi Is Good for Older Adults

Why tai chi? These Chinese movement patterns have been around for centuries. In recent years, study after study has proven their benefits—particularly for older exercisers—yet most fitness professionals seem to know little about the practice….

Diverse group doing tai chi outdoors.

Tai Chi for Aging Adults

Did you know that the Chinese movement patterns of tai chi have been around for centuries? This “movement meditation” consists of continuous, fluid and precisely controlled forms in a specific sequence. In recent years, study after study has proven the benefits of tai chi—particularly for active agers.

New Mindful Outdoor Leadership Program

As green exercise and the health benefits of spending time in nature gain more prominence in popular and scientific news, the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, is introducing a Mindful Outdoor Leadership Program in October.
The curriculum includes elements of forest bathing, Ayurveda, yoga, outdoor skills, and research related to nature’s health benefits.

Mindful Movement, Meditation and High Blood Pressure

Qigong, yoga and tai chi may all be useful practices for reducing high blood pressure. And qigong, in particular, may have the most significant impact on reducing diastolic blood pressure [DBP], according to a review of studies published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2017; article ID 9784271).

Women, Men and Mindfulness

Educating men in mindfulness skills via mind-body movement like yoga and tai chi may be more successful than encouraging introspective activities.
In a paper presented in Frontiers in Psychology (2017), Brown University researchers in Providence, Rhode Island, discovered that men and women respond differently to training in meditation and mindfulness skills. Women significantly improved a negative mood by participating in the training, while men felt slightly worse.

Tai Chi: The Perfect Balance for Aging Adults

Why tai chi?
These Chinese movement patterns have been around for centuries. In recent years, study after study has proven the benefits of tai chi—particularly for older exercisers—yet most fitness professionals seem to know little about it.
That’s too bad, because just about any fitness client can learn tai chi, and any fitness professional can teach it. Like other types of exercise, tai chi simply requires you to learn its movements and experience its benefits.

Tai Chi and Women’s Heart Health

Tai chi may also be helpful for women with higher-than-average risk of developing heart disease. A study from Virginia Commonwealth University suggests the
practice may reduce fatigue and inflammation, while increasing mindfulness, self–compassion and spirituality, in this population.

Tai Chi, PTSD and Veterans

Tai chi practice may help veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder to manage symptoms like instrusive thoughts, concentration difficulties and psychological arousal. Boston University Medical Center researchers conducted a small pilot study with 17 veterans with PTSD to
evaluate whether tai chi would be a feasible and beneficial activity.

Yoga and Tai Chi Offer Nondrug Pain Management

Complementary approaches like yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, massage therapy and relaxation techniques can help some people manage chronic pain, says a research review published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings (2016; 91 [9], 1292–1306). In the United States, chronic pain affects 126 million adults in any given year, with as many as 40 million of them suffering from severe pain. Leading disorders include back pain, joint pain, neck pain and headaches.

Question of the Month

Have you or has the facility where you work delivered any mind-body programs, like tai chi or yoga, to residents of older-adult housing communities? If so, please tell us about it. Let us know what level of care facility (independent or assisted living) was served, and what types of activity programs have been successful. Offer any tips on how you think others might also begin offering such programs.

Share your responses with editor Sandy Todd Webster, [email protected]

Tai Chi Offered in Older-Adult Housing Programs

Elderly people who live in senior housing communities can benefit from residentially based tai chi programs, according to a report in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society (2014; 62 [8]; 1484–89; doi: 10.1111/jgs.12946).

Researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston and
the National Central University in Jhongli, Taiwan, wanted to determine the effects of a tai chi training program on functional performance, and on walking while performing another task, among older adults living in a supportive-care facility.

Finding Balance With Tai Chi

Over 35 years ago fitness industry visionary Ruth Stricker discovered tai chi, and it changed everything. “Tai chi is my favorite subject,” she laughs. “I’ve been to China 14 times—I kept going back because I just love the philosophy. It was the philosophy of tai chi that inspired The Marsh.”

Older Adults Enjoy Tai Chi and Aquatic Exercise

The most popular exercise activities for adults aged 65 or older include tai chi and aquatic exercise, according to Tracking the Fitness Movement (2009 edition), a report released by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA). Even though the fitness industry has been impacted by the economy, and sales of fitness equipment have taken a hit, the SGMA study shows that interest and participation in fitness activities by older adults remain very strong.

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