Weekend Workout Blog Post Four: Tai Chi
Image Source: www.wisegeek.com
With World Tai Chi day is tomorrow, Saturday the 30th of April, what a perfect opportunity to try tai chi for the first time or get back into an exercise that has a host of benefits. This gentle form of exercise can help maintain strength, flexibility and balance and could be the perfect activity for the rest of your life.
Tai chi is an exercise that combines slow, graceful movements with meditation and breathing techniques. Because the body is constantly in motion, tai chi is sometimes called "moving meditation." Although tai chi has developed into an exercise for health purposes, it originated as a martial art in 12th-century China.
Tai chi differs from other types of exercise in several respects. The movements are usually circular and never forced, the muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, the joints are not fully extended or bent and connective tissues are not stretched. Tai chi can be easily adapted for anyone, from the fittest athletes to people confined to wheelchairs or recovering from surgery.
Although tai chi is slow and gentle and doesn’t leave you breathless, it addresses the key components of fitness — muscle strength, flexibility, balance, and, to a lesser degree, aerobic conditioning.
Check with your doctor - If you have a limiting musculoskeletal problem or medical condition — or if you take medications that can make you dizzy or lightheaded — check with your doctor before starting tai chi. Given its excellent safety record, chances are that you’ll be encouraged to try it.
Consider observing and taking a class - Taking a class may be the best way to learn tai chi. Seeing a teacher in action, getting feedback and experiencing the camaraderie of a group are all pluses. Most teachers will let you observe the class first to see if you feel comfortable with the approach and atmosphere. Instruction can be individualised. Ask about classes at your local fitness centre, senior centre, or community education centre.
If you’d rather learn at home, you can buy or rent DVDs geared to your interests and fitness needs.
Talk to the instructor - There’s no standard training or licensing for tai chi instructors, so you’ll need to rely on recommendations from friends or clinicians and, of course, your own judgment. Look for an experienced teacher who will accommodate individual health concerns or levels of coordination and fitness.
Dress comfortably- Choose loose-fitting clothes that don’t restrict your range of motion. You can practice barefoot, in grippy socks or in lightweight, comfortable and flexible shoes. You’ll need shoes that won’t slip and can provide enough support to help you balance, but have soles thin enough to allow you to feel the ground.
Gauge your progress - Most beginner programs and tai chi interventions tested in medical research last at least 12 weeks, with instruction once or twice a week and practice at home. By the end of that time, you should know whether you enjoy tai chi and you may already notice positive physical and psychological changes.
Why not be a part of World Tai Chi Day? Events all around the country will be taking place this year on Saturday the 30th of April. To find a local event visit http://listings.worldtaichiday.org/find-local-whd-events?view=whdeventalbums&task=display&country=Australia
For more information or to live stream on the day visit http://www.worldtaichiday.org/. BreaCan is also offering a free tai chi session on Monday the 9th of May in Victoria. To book into this session or for more information visit http://breacan.org.au/event-category/info-sessions/.
Does anyone practice tai chi regularly?
Is anyone taking part in World Tai Chi Day?
- Breastcancer.org 2016, Tai Chi, viewed on 13th April 2016, http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/comp_med/types/tai_chi
- Tai Chi Society 2015, Tai Chi Benefits, viewed on 13th April 2016, http://www.taichisociety.net/tai-chi-health-benefits.html
- Harvard University, Harvard Health Publications 2016, the health benefits of tai chi, viewed on 13th April 2016, http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-benefits-of-tai-chi