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.
The sensory-rich pool environment—soothing and simultaneously challenging—is an ideal setting for mindful movement and a welcome respite from digital stress. It’s also a place where people of all ages and ability levels can thrive. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that aquatic exercise posted the third-greatest growth among group exercise and training protocols in the 2017 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report, with 12% facility member participation last year, up from 7% in 2014.
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.
A strong skeleton is just as important as a healthy heart.
Bones form the frame that keeps our bodies from collapsing and serve as a bank for minerals essential to multiple bodily functions. In fact, 99% of the body’s calcium is found in the bones and teeth (NIH n.d.). The skeleton anchors everything fitness professionals deal with every day: muscles, joints, tendons, the whole kinetic chain.
It’s a busy, technology-dominated world—and most of us are continually spinning, twisting and turning in an effort to “get things done” and “produce.” We work, we raise families, we have countless responsibilities. The truth is, this is distracted living, and it raises stress levels, lowers productivity and interferes with our ability to focus. When we live this way, we fail to cultivate a sense of contentment and joy.
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).
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.
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.
Plenty of research has determined that regular exercise benefits brain health. A recent large review got more specific and looked into how different types of exercise affect the brain.
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.
IDEA Fitness Journal