Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
Could you share with us the benefits of tai chi?
A: Tai chi is an ancient Chinese system of slowly flowing movements and shifts of balance. It strengthens the legs while conditioning the tendons and ligaments of the ankles, knees, and hips, increasing their range of motion and making them more resilient, less prone to injury. The constant weight shifts increase balance and body awareness, leading to a confidant ease of movement within the form and in everyday life. Tai chi is a physical exercise that focuses the mind, while conditioning the body. Practicing twenty minutes a day dissipates stress and reduces stress-related debilities; it also increases stamina and strengthens the body and will.
The benefits of a regular tai chi practice include the following: more efficient breathing, improved circulation, reduced blood pressure, slower declines in cardiovascular power, increased bone density, reduced anxiety, improved sleep, increased strength and range of motion of joints, greater leg strength, knee strength, and flexibility, reduced levels of stress hormones during and after practice, improved immune function, and heightened mood states.
Tai chi classes can be found in community recreation centers and parks throughout the world. You can learn more about Tai chi at www.chihealth.org.