Skip to content

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Tai Chi Exercises Both Mind and Body

Centuries-old practice gains new followers.
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

The movement is slow, graceful, and fluid. The effort is almost undetectable. Most people are wearing street clothes, and no one has special shoes.

Could this really be exercise? Absolutely.

Tai Chi is a centuries-old Chinese practice designed to exercise the mind and body through a series of gentle, flowing postures that create a kind of synchronized dance.

Deeply rooted in Chinese meditation, medicine, and martial arts, tai chi (pronounced ''tie chee'') combines mental concentration with slow, controlled movements to focus the mind, challenge the body, and improve the flow of what the Chinese call ''qi'' (also spelled ''chi'') -- the life energy thought to sustain health and quiet the mind.

Found in many community centers, health clubs, and studios in the United States, tai chi is lauded for its gentleness and accessibility.

In fact, almost anyone can do it, even those with conditions that may exclude them from other forms of exercise, says Bill Douglas, tai chi teacher and founder of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day. Seniors, the overweight, and the arthritic can all participate.

Benefits of Tai Chi

The list of benefits that regular practice of Tai Chi can bring is long, according to advocates. It can improve strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. Some research also suggests that tai chi may help to improve heart function and decrease blood pressure.

One of the most significant benefits is stress reduction, says Douglas, who lives and works outside Kansas City, Kan.

Stress is known to aggravate some health conditions, he says. And, according to some estimates, unmanaged stress could be costing U.S. businesses billions each year.

''If we provided tools like tai chi and qigong and other mind-body techniques through public education, every kid could be graduating high school as a tai chi or yoga master,'' Douglas says. ''This could conceivably save hundreds of billions of dollars, not once, but every year.''

Just learning to relax and breathe more deeply can be reason enough to take tai chi, says Warren D. Conner, founder of the T’ai Chi Ch’uan Study Center of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area.

''You can take what you learn from the practice and transfer that to daily life,'' he says.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

measuring waist
4 tips for shedding yours.
apple cider vinegar
Does it have health benefits?
 
Chocolate truffle
For weight loss, some aren’t so bad after all.
woman holding red dress
24 simple, practical tips.
 
woman shopping fresh produce
Video
butter curl on knife
Quiz
 
eating out healthy
Article
Smiling woman, red hair
Article
 
thumbnail_woman_tossing_spinach
Video
lunchbox
Article
 
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
Article
fat caliper
Tool
 

Special Sections