Tai Chi: A Healthy Habit

Tai Chi: A Healthy Habit

Every Tuesday and Friday, a group of dedicated residents of Eastcastle Place senior living community meets to enhance their strength, flexibility, and focus. They achieve this by practicing tai chi, an ancient Chinese discipline providing mental and physical benefits such as enhanced strength, flexibility, and focus.

The twice-weekly tai chi class is led by Malisia Hopkins who guides participants in the art of gentle movement and focused breathing. This class also offers an all-important opportunity to socialize with others.

We all know how beneficial regular exercise and movement are, especially for seniors. Tai chi is a safe, yet powerful choice because, unlike many other exercise programs, tai chi involves slow, deliberate movements. In Chinese, tai chi refers to ‘supreme ultimate’ representing the principles of yin and yang.  The practice combines stillness and motion. According to a report from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and the National Institutes of Health, tai chi can work wonders for seniors.

The report defines tai chi as “a centuries-old practice that involves certain postures and gentle movements with mental focus, breathing, and relaxation. The movements can be adapted or practiced while walking, standing, or sitting. Tai chi movements, if practiced quickly, can be a form of combat or self-defense.”

Tai chi can help seniors manage certain chronic conditions. “Clinical studies have shown that practicing tai chi may help improve balance and stability in older people and those with Parkinson’s disease, reduce back pain and pain from knee osteoarthritis, and improve quality of life in people with heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. In addition, tai chi may ease fibromyalgia pain and promote general quality of life. Tai chi may also improve older people’s reasoning ability,” the report continues.

Falling is one of the biggest dangers to seniors. If there was proof that tai chi helps prevent falls, would you believe it? Well, clear your schedule and come to class, because it’s true. According to this article in Healthline, regular practice of tai chi can significantly reduce the risk of falls among older adults. A 2017 review published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society found that tai chi reduced falls by up to 50 percent. The fear of falling often causes seniors to limit their activities; the confidence and security that tai chi provides help reduce the fear of falling. In many cases, this new sense of confidence leads seniors to pursue more activities and enhance their quality of life.

If you’re looking for an exercise program, tai chi is a perfect choice. The twice-weekly practice at Eastcastle Place is convenient, beneficial, and fun! So put on some comfortable clothes and try a class. You’ll start reaping the many benefits tai chi offers while hanging out with your neighbors and meeting new friends. See you in class!