Tai chi may prevent falls in older people and improve mental health, according to research findings. On the other hand, this ancient Chinese martial arts does not improve cancer symptoms or rheumatoid arthritis.
The benefits of tai chi have long been studied, but the results have often been contradictory. The researchers decided to compare the results from the previous works in order to draw some definitive conclusions about the benefits of tai chi.
The researchers reviewed 35 studies on tai chi and looked at its effectiveness in treating various conditions, such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, musculoskeletal pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes. Some studies also looked at the benefits of tai chi on psychological health, along with balance and fall prevention.
The findings were contradictory for some of the conditions, but it was quite clear that tai chi helps improve balance, prevent falls, and boost psychological health. The authors concluded, “Our overview showed that tai chi, which combines deep breathing and relaxation with slow and gentle movements, may exert exercise-based general benefits for fall prevention and improvement of balance in older people as well as some meditative effects for improving psychological health. We recommend tai chi for older people for its various physical and psychological benefits. However, tai chi may not effectively treat inflammatory diseases.”
Relieves pain: Tai chi improves seniors’ range of motion, balance, flexibility, and builds muscles – all essential for pain reduction.
Fights depression: Living with more than one chronic medical condition can contribute to depression. Because tai chi can help improve some of those conditions, the risk of depression is reduced. Furthermore, tai chi promotes movement and social connection with others, which are also important in reducing and combating depression.
Eases arthritis discomfort: Tai chi is easy on the joints but allows seniors to exercise, which can ease arthritis discomfort by gently stretching and training.
Promotes deep breathing: Tai chi is based on the theory of deep breathing. Deep breathing helps reduce tension in the muscles and lowers the level of stress (thus preventing stress-induced adverse health outcomes).
Lowers blood pressure: As mentioned, tai chi can be a way to reduce stress, a known trigger of high blood pressure.
Raises energy levels: Tai chi movements and deep breathing increase the supply of oxygen, boosting energy.
Improves sleep: By promoting mental clarity and reducing stress, tai chi is also known to help improve sleep.
Improves knee osteoarthritis: Tai chi was found to be particularly beneficial for patients who are overweight or obese, as they are more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis. The participants either took part in tai chi or physical therapy. The tai chi group trained twice a week for 12 weeks, and the physical therapy group trained twice a week for six weeks and then completed at-home exercises for additional six weeks. Participants continued taking their anti-inflammatory and pain medications and went for their routine medical appointments. At the end of the 12 weeks, participants answered questionnaires to evaluate pain, stiffness, and joint function. Both groups saw similar results, which lasted up to a year’s time.
Benefits heart disease patients: Heart disease patients benefit from performing tai chi exercises, as reported by a new study. The study reviewed 35 previous studies involving over 2,200 individuals from 10 different countries. The researchers found that those with heart disease benefitted from tai chi, as their blood pressure lowered.