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Consider Tai Chi

Learn about tai chi, an ancient Chinese exercise that may help with joint pain, flexibility, and balance. Find classes. Meet instructors and ask to watch a class. Watch a DVD from the library or videos on YouTube.

Tai Chi for OA, RA

Tai chi is great for arthritis, but to avoid hurting yourself, consider learning tai chi from a qualified instructor rather than a video, DVD, or book. Look for one who has worked with people who have arthritis. An instructor can find the most helpful moves for you and show you how to modify moves as necessary to make them easier for you to do while still gaining benefit.

Move Pain Away

Tai chi is easy and seems to be especially helpful for people with arthritis. In fact, some report feeling pain relief after just a few minutes of doing tai chi.

Practicing tai chi also improves your range of motion, flexibility, and balance. The result? You may be able to do everyday tasks more easily -- from cleaning the house to getting into the bathtub.

Tai Chi in Action

In tai chi, the focus is on movement and breathing -- a combo that calms and relaxes.

A leader shows walking or standing poses, with graceful arm movements. Poses are a series of flowing, slow movements. You may do 20 poses in a 1-hour class.

It's easy to start, and it's not competitive. But it can take time to master the poses. Progress is measured in terms of coordination, strength, balance, flexibility, breathing, digestion, emotional balance, and a sense of well-being.

Tai Chi Classes

Tai chi classes are offered in many communities. It's usually easy to find a class near you. Contact your local:

* Senior center or community center

* YMCA or YWCA

* Health club or wellness facility

* Martial arts center

How Tai Chi Helps

Not much research has been done on tai chi, but early studies show it may offer many benefits. Tai chi may help reduce anxiety and depression, improving your sense of well-being. It improves balance, reducing falls in older adults.

Tai chi also seems to help relieve chronic pain and improve the quality of sleep. Plus, it may lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular fitness in older adults. 

WebMD Medical Reference

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