Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese movement practice that involves slow and gentle mind-body exercise specifically aimed to improve flexibility and balance while keeping your elderly loved ones in a calm and cool state. This type of exercise is ideal for seniors because it can be done while simply standing or with support from a chair.
Benefits of Tai Chi
- It can reduce falls among the elderly. Practicing Tai Chi improves balance, stability, and flexibility in seniors. All key factors to preventing falls. If you do it often enough, you may even reduce the pain from conditions such as fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and back problems.
- It helps reduce stress. Tai Chi movements are slow and gentle, they promote calmness and mind and body integration. Slow and quiet movements exercises are also known to increase energy levels and speed up recovery from illnesses.
- It is the best exercise for seniors with mobility problems. Compared to other forms of exercise such as aerobics and weight training, Tai Chi is much gentler and low-impact. This can help seniors who want to exercise but are overweight or have chronic conditions that lower their mobility.
- It allows for better, more restful sleep. Tai Chi emphasizes concentration on one’s breathing, slow and mindful movements, and a lot of meditation. Regular practice of Tai Chi not only improves blood circulation, but also helps your body naturally relax and fall into healthier, deeper sleep.
Styles of Tai Chi
Most may not know that there are five styles of Tai Chi. They all derive from the original Chen style but all five are practiced today. They are:
- Chen Style – The oldest of the five styles. It combines and alternates movements from fast to slow. Fast movements include explosive ones such as kicking, stomping, and a little bit of jumping. Because of the explosive nature of some of the movements, this style is great for building leg strength and physical conditioning.
- Yang Style – The most popular of the five styles. It is the most accessible as it focuses on slow, even, gentle, and largely exaggerated movements. This style is most adaptable and suitable for seniors with limited mobility or for those recovering from injuries.
- Sun Style – The gentlest of the five styles. Practicing this style is like having a graceful dance. It incorporates fluid and circular movements of the hands and feet. This style is very easy on the joints and works great for physical therapy.
- Wu/Hao Style – The first of two Wu Styles. It is considered quite advanced as it combines movements from both the Yang and Chen Styles. Movements emphasize an individual’s chi, with a focus on high posture, and smoothly controlled movements.
- Wu Style – The second Wu Style. It is also very popular, second only to the Yang Style. This style includes weapons training and has different hand forms. Unique to this style is the emphasis on forward and backward body extension.
Practicing Tai Chi for just 10 minutes a day, a couple times a week can work wonders for your elderly loved ones so try it out now!