If you are interested in a mild or gentle form of exercise, you may have found it with Tai Chi. Practiced for 600 years in China, Tai Chi exercises the mind, body, and spirit. While performing Tai Chi, people move through slow and synchronized positions. Tai Chi postures work the muscles gently, require concentration, and improve the flow of qi (pronounced “chi”), which has been described as “vital life energy that sustains health and calms the mind.”
Though Tai Chi originated in China, it has gained popularity in the West. People of all ages can practice Tai Chi. It is especially appealing to people who dislike fast-paced, aggressive exercise.
You can find Tai Chi classes at community centers, karate schools, and possibly HMOs (health maintenance organizations). There are books and videos created to teach Tai Chi, but it is best to have an instructor who can watch you and be sure you are moving properly.
Some doctors recommend Tai Chi to arthritis patients. Tai Chi allows a person to gradually improve flexibility and build muscle strength. The emphasis of Tai Chi is on gentle movement of joints through their range of motion, breathing through the movements, and inner stillness that relieves stress or anxiety.
There are five recognized styles of Tai Chi: Yang (the popular style of today's world), Sun, Wu, Hao, and Chen.
The Arthritis Foundation of Australia and Dr. Paul Lam have developed a program known as Tai Chi for Arthritis. You can learn more on their Web site:
The program is based on the Sun style of Tai Chi. The Sun style is beneficial for arthritis patients because of steps that enhance mobility, exercises which improve breathing and relaxation, and the use of stances easier for beginners and older persons. There is no bending or squatting with the Sun style of Tai Chi.
A Tai Chi program is offered by the Arthritis Foundation. The program consists of twelve movements (six basic and six advanced), a warmup, and cool down. (