Graceful Movements of Tai Chi Help Body and Soul
"I call it meditation in motion," Xu tells WebMD. "You erase
everything from your mind, concentrate on the movement, it is very much a
mind-body connection ... making circular movements, moving smoothing, gently.
Life today is very stressful; people have job problems, relationship problems.
Fifteen to 20 minutes of tai chi every day can reduce that stress and lower
blood pressure especially."
Xu is currently working with the Arthritis Foundation, providing education
on the benefits of tai chi in preventing arthritis. "Because you move the
whole body, the wrist, the elbow, the knee, because all the joints are moved,
tai chi keeps the joints lubricated. It is a total body exercise. It is a
smooth and relaxed form of exercise, very soft, like a continuous dance,"
During the past 10 years, Xu has worked with Emory School of Medicine
professor Steven L. Wolf, PhD, in studying tai chi and elderly people. In a
study involving 200 people aged 70 and older, one group took 15 weekly tai chi
sessions and 15-minute twice-daily practice sessions in between; another group
took balance training classes using a computer-operated balance platform that
helped them learn to control their sway under increasingly difficult
conditions. Wolf found improvements in certain key areas, most notably in
reducing the rate of falling, for the tai chi group.
"Tai chi is a low-technological, inexpensive group activity," says
Wolf. "Our data suggest that tai chi can influence older individuals'
functioning and well-being significantly and provide some appreciation for why
this exercise form has been practiced by older Chinese for more than three
- Tai chi is an ancient Chinese exercise tradition that involves making slow,
- Practicing tai chi can improve mild balance problems in people of all ages
and can reduce the risk of falls.
- Other health benefits of tai chi include reduced stress, greater
relaxation, and lower blood pressure.