Health and Tai Chi

[pullquote align=”right”]Eastern and now western science continue to amass data on the health benefits of Tai Chi Chu’an.[/pullquote]









How is tai chi good for health?  It’s the flexibility right?  No, it’s the meditative aspects isn’t it?  Can’t I get the same benefit from walking?

Here is the overall picture.  The average form can take 6-12 minutes.  How can 1) we receive such huge payback in benefits in this short of time?  And 2) why is this 6-12 minutes so different from any other 6-12 walking, swimming, or the like?

Firstly, yes the tai chi form does not take that long to do. 

However, it can take 4-12 months to learn the form correctly depending on style and motivation.  The payoff is huge in that it is fun to learn, you benefit immediately, and gain access to your own source of health and healing.  If I were promising something this great do you think you could learn it in a weekend?

Secondly, many resources tout the health benefits of tai chi but we would like to explain how these benefits are achieved.

You honestly do feel good from performing tai chi but old knee injuries don’t heal on the spot.  Leaning on our intellect to understand the process assists us in being patient as health manifests from within us.

Bone Health and Tai Chi

Bone health is dependent on the body generating the material to produce bone and on bones being under a load causing needed density.  Tai chi internal arts (qi gong) target the production of qi which is directly related to bone marrow generation.  The postures reintroduce your legs and spine to your body’s weight rather than throwing your balance in a direction to carry you forward.

health and tai chiOrgan Health and Tai Chi

The postures of tai chi put the vertebrae in correct alignment allowing the organs, which are connected to the backbone, to not experience undue pressure.  Tai chi movements massage the organs allowing them to perform their function.  I need to get a little bit gross here for medicine’s sake.  Much of the cancers and debilitating disease are related to toxicity and our inability to purge our system effectively.  The rotating on the organs and intestines, coupled with blood flow and hormone secretion, make us go potty, very effectively.

Joint Health and Tai Chi

Out comes my soapbox due to being highly athletic in a western sense and experiencing injuries from high school forward.  Western athletics lock the joints and stretch the surrounding muscles.  Tai chi uses the muscles on both sides of the joint to rotate it and warm it up.  Even as recently as the 2012 Olympics they were talking about new studies that include loss of strength due to static stretching.

Mental Clarity and Tai Chi

1) Paradoxically, slow learning makes us thing faster.  Many parallels are being drawn between the acquisition of music and art abilities (in adults!!) due to these same principles.  Here are two of many resources that make my point: Drawing with the Right Side of the Brain – Edwards, Effortless Mastery – Werner.  2)  Tai chi is an activity that encompasses the three learning modes: kinesthetic, auditory, and visual.  By accessing all three modalities simultaneously once or twice a week we benefit from being about to lean on all three modalities in all of life’s circumstances.

Stress Reduction and Tai Chi

We now know that stress is directly tied to degeneration, loss of sleep, aging, cardiovascular issues, and is implicated in poor diet choices.  Survey research indicates that peoples 1) perception of their mental state improves after tai chi and 2) outlook improves when asked their opinion on basic life questions.  Medical indicators such as diastolic pressure were deduced after 3 minutes of standing meditation.  Come on people! That’s 120 seconds!

Cardiovascular Effects of Tai Chi

The low stances and proper postures put a good load on your lower body.  Cardiovascular efficiency is produced because of the increased pressure to return blood from the legs without stress or tension in the upper and tai chi

Arthritis Management and Tai Chi

A Google search for Arthritis and Tai Chi introduces you to millions of people benefiting from tai chi.  Some claim that tai chi eliminated arthritis along with dietary changes.  Minimally tai chi can reduce the progression of arthritis and ameliorate the chief complaints: improved circulation, reduction in joint pain, and increased mobility.


Further Reading on Tai Chi and Health

The health benefits of tai chi – Harvard Health Publications
Tai chi: A gentle way to fight stress – Tai chi helps reduce stress and anxiety. And it also helps increase flexibility and balance. – The Mayo Clinic


Scott Prath

Scott has been practicing and teaching tai chi and qigong since 2000. He is a lead instructor for the Austin Chen Tai Chi Association. His interest in the internal martial arts began after traveling in India and Nepal, and he has since traveled to China to train. Scott has published over 100 articles on tai chi with a focus on research showing the benefits of practicing.

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