Tai Chi (TIE-CHEE), originally developed in ancient China for self-defense, has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that is now used for stress reduction and other health conditions.  It is often described as meditation in motion and promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements.

Tai chi helps reduce stress and anxiety while helping to increase flexibility and balance.  Tai chi involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing.  It is noncompetitive and self-paced with each posture flowing into the next without pause.  This ensures that the body is in constant motion.

There are different styles of tai chi, each emphasizing various principles and methods.

Almost anyone can do tai chi.  It is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints making it safe for all ages and fitness levels.  You may also find it appealing because it’s inexpensive and requires no special equipment.  You can do tai chi anywhere, including indoors or outside.

When learned correctly and performed regularly, tai chi can be a positive part of an overall approach to improving your health.  The benefits of tai chi may include:

  • Decreased stress, anxiety and depression
  • Improved mood
  • Improved aerobic capacity
  • Increased energy and stamina
  • Improved flexibility and balance

Some evidence indicates that tai chi also may help:

  • Enhance quality of sleep
  • Enhance the immune system
  • Help lower blood pressure
  • Diminish joint pain
  • Improve overall well-being
  • Reduce risk of falls in older adults

Although you can buy videos and books on tai chi, consider seeking guidance from a qualified tai chi instructor to gain the full benefits and learn proper techniques.  Many communities have instructors that can teach you specific positions and breathing techniques.

While you gain some benefit from a few weeks of tai chi, you may enjoy greater benefits if you continue tai chi for the long term and become more skilled.