Karate chops and smashing plywood are not actions commonly associated with physical activities among the elderly, but the truth is that certain variations of martial arts have plenty of redeeming qualities that can enhance senior independence. One of these practices is the ancient Chinese defense training tai chi, an exercise that focuses on balance, advanced breathing techniques and circular movements that are aimed to increase focus on self awareness. Here are a few reasons why seniors should consider adding some tai chi to improve their overall quality of life.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2.3 million Americans have tried tai chi in the past 12 months. Some of the biggest health advantages that have been reported through tai chi exercises are:
- Increased muscle strength
- Eased stiffness and pain
- Improved hand-eye coordination
- Better quality of sleep
Learning the moves of tai chi will increase flexibility and balance for people of all ages. One study has reported that implementing tai chi practices as routine physical activity can reduce falls, a common side effect of those experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, in seniors by 45 percent.
Professors at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center enlisted 100 patients with heart failure related symptoms from the Brigham & Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital to study whether tai chi could assist their heart treatment.
The researchers found that, compared to minimal daily exercise, daily tai chi regimens showed a similar pattern in patients' peak oxygen intake while significantly increasing the amount of calories burned per week. There was also reported improvement in the emotional states of the subjects after analyzing answers of self-mood questionnaires completed by participants.
If you are looking for a better way to promote a more active senior living lifestyle, try enrolling in some tai chi classes and start feeling the results kick in today!