Tai Chi is a therapeutic exercise which originated as a martial art. It is a slow moving martial art based on the Eastern belief that a life force (chi) or energy circulates throughout the body by way of pathways called meridians. A disruption in this flow of energy is believed to result in illness or disease. Therefore, a balance of chi is essential for health and Tai Chi is an exercise which promotes this proper flow of energy. However, it is both a physical and a mental exercise recognized as a form of moving meditation. Its philosophy emphasizes the importance of the connection between the individual's mind and body. Tai Chi is a holistic approach accounting for the entire individual rather than focusing on the localized symptoms.
Through Tai Chi's use of diaphragmatic breathing and focused meditation, this form of exercise has a relaxing effect on the individual. There has been scientific evidence showing that practitioners show improvements in self-esteem, self-confidence, sleep and mental health as the result of participating in a Tai Chi program. There is also evidence that there are improvements in friendliness and pleasantness among individuals who practiced this form of exercise. An important part of Tai Chi is the prevalence of its practice within a group setting. The socialization aspect of this type of exercise is believed to play an important role in the psychological effects.
Benefits that have been reported within the cardiopulmonary system include decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure1, more efficient breathing and in chest expansion.
The slow continuous movements of Tai Chi benefit the neurological system by causing tonal decreases in much of the same way as proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). Tai Chi also aids in increased proprioceptive awareness which is significant for the elderly population because of its importance in decreasing the number of falls. Much like other...