Regardless of your age, a good balance is important. Good balance can help with everything from improving your athletic performance to reducing the risks of injury as you get older, to name a few. Can tai chi help with balance?
The short answer is, yes it can! Indeed. Tai chi is a form of exercise that is beneficial for many reasons making tai chi the perfect addition to your current exercise routine.
Tai chi is a form of exercise that allows for gentle movements that people of all ages practice. Because Tai chi is an excellent form of calisthenics and a great way to get healthy.
What Is Tai Chi?
The sense of balance is affected by many things, and as we age, our sense of balance naturally becomes compromised. Fortunately, there are things you can do to greatly improve your balance. And one of the most important is exercises, such as tai chi. You can also try chair yoga.
Just what is tai chi? Tai chi is a Chinese martial art form of exercise that allows you to practice very controlled movements. The movements are performed in a very slow and focused manner. Since it is easy on the joints and muscles, tai chi is recommended for people of all ages.
In addition to balance, tai chi can also improve your flexibility and your overall fitness level. Which in turn, can even prevent falls as you get older.
Tai chi can also be considered a form of meditative movement, much like yoga. There are many different styles of tai chi. And although it started as a form of martial arts, it is now used for many other reasons, including to improve depression and enhance the immune system.
Tai chi is also thought to improve joint pain, increase stamina, help lower blood pressure, and even help you sleep better. It’s slow but continuous, movements are usually paired with deep breathing and allow for constant bodily motion and increased coordination.
How Does Tai Chi Affect Your Sense of Balance?
If you compare tai chi to aerobic activity, it is roughly the equivalent of taking a brisk walk. There are some truly amazing health benefits to tai chi. When your goal is to improve your sense of balance, you must take a look at everything that has to do with staying upright, for example, leg strength, reflexes, range of motion, and so on.
The main reason that tai chi improves balance is that the exercises target all three of these areas, as well as flexibility and stability. It improves these things so that your balance is improved as well, giving you more of a sense of self-confidence, especially as you get older.
These areas also decline naturally as we get older, which is why adding exercise programs such as tai chi to your routine can slow down that decline and enable you to enjoy more stability, flexibility, and everything else you need to greatly reduce the risk of falls.
Often, the fear of falling increases as we age, which in and of itself can contribute to an increase in falling. Tai chi improves your sense of balance, which in turn reduces that fear so that you can walk and participate in your daily activities without constantly worrying about falling.
Although tai chi is essentially a low-impact exercise, it does a much better job of getting you healthy than you think. It combines both exercise and stretching, and the best part is, there is no special equipment needed and it can even be done at your own pace.
What Is Balance?
If you’re curious about what balance is, the truth is that there is no definitive medical description of the term. Control of one’s posture, stability, and flexibility all affect your sense of balance, and many experts consider it a way to maintain bodily equilibrium, which is a good way to look at it.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that people don’t know if they have a good sense of balance, because everybody knows when they do or do not have a good balance. If you can stand on one leg or stand from a sitting position without using your hands, your sense of balance is better than you think.
You may be reading this and thinking, why is balance so important? The answer is, balance is important for numerous reasons, regardless of your age or your current level of fitness. Balance can improve your life in many ways, including:
- Improving agility
- Reducing trips and falls
- Allowing you to stand, walk, and climb without difficulty
- Reducing the possibility of walking into something
Simply put, we cannot function nor have a sense of physical control if we do not have a sense of balance, and this is especially true for older individuals. The older we get, the more important it becomes to work on our sense of balance, and practicing tai chi is the perfect way to do just that.
Tai Chi and Balance: A Perfect Combination
Tai chi improves both your physical and emotional health, which goes a long way in helping you improve your sense of balance. If you’ve ever fallen just once, you already know how easy it is to be fearful of your next fall. Tai chi improves your self-confidence so that you can eliminate this fear and, therefore, decrease the chances of another fall.
Tai chi strengthens both your body and your mind at the same time and in fact, has been proven to reduce the risk of falls in older individuals by as much as 45%. The older we get, the more falls become a possibility, but that possibility can be reduced if we are more prepared physically and emotionally for the life we’re living.
Even people with certain diseases can benefit from a good tai chi program since it helps improve balance. This includes diseases such as Parkinson’s and others.
With tai chi, you become much more aware of your internal body and the external world around you, and this will last even after that tai chi class is over. That greater sense of both your physical and emotional self will extend to all other areas of your life. Enabling you to experience greater mobility and fewer falls and other accidents.
How Should You Get Started in Tai Chi?
Tai chi is a relatively simple exercise because it requires no special skills, clothing, or equipment. There are hundreds of DVDs with tai chi exercises. You can look for exercise classes. You can usually find tai chi classes at a local gym or church.
With rare exceptions, you can simply jump right in and enjoy your tai chi classes thanks to the fact that they are so incredibly safe. If you are pregnant, nursing, or have any type of medical condition, it’s always best to check with your doctor before enrolling in a tai chi class.
You should also keep in mind that there are many different styles of tai chi. And a little research is always beneficial. Trying to determine which style is best for you usually start with a little due diligence on your part, but the good news is, you should easily be able to find a style that is right for you.
These slow, gentle movements are a great option for those who want to add some aerobic activity. And some light weight-bearing activity to their exercise regimen. Yes, tai chi is even good for building up your muscles, although don’t expect it to make you look like a professional weight-lifter!
Yet another reason why tai chi can help you improve your sense of balance is that balance is greatly increased by improving your core area. And this is exactly what tai chi does. In fact, most people are surprised by the way tai chi uses your core muscles as you go from one movement to the next, and an improved core always equates to an improved sense of balance.
What Else is Tai Chi Good For?
Tai chi can also improve your:
- Back muscles
Many tai chi classes are even held outdoors. Allowing you to feel a little freer and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine as you participate in the class. Tai chi classes can benefit you from head to toe because it involves movement of almost every body part.
Having a great sense of balance offers many different advantages. One of the most significant ones – especially for older individuals – is a reduction in the number of falls you experience. Tai chi can greatly improve your balance and decrease the odds of falling. And it does so with a low-impact activity you’ll love participating in!
Tai chi is also great for other conditions, including serious diseases such as Parkinson’s.
Furthermore, tai chi provides both physical and emotional benefits and can benefit people of all ages. It is the perfect addition to anyone’s exercise routine. For better stability, flexibility, muscle tone, and of course balance. You can’t beat tai chi because this is one of the many reasons it has been around for so long.
References Used in This Article
- Featured image sourced from Commons Wikimedia.
- The effects of tai chi on depression, anxiety, and psychological well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
- Regular tai chi chuan exercise enhances functional mobility and CD4CD25 regulatory T cells.
- In Brief: Tai chi gives the immune system a boost.
- Tai Chi Chuan can improve balance and reduce the fear of falling in community-dwelling older adults. A randomized control trial.
- Efficacy and safety of Tai Chi for Parkinson’s disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
- Tai Chi and postural stability in patients with parkinson’s disease.