When searching for Tai Chi benefits online, you will find a massive amount of information. There are webpages full of lists, research news and individual narration. It’s overwhelming.
So I came up with the idea to bundle all that information right here. And of course for each point I will give one or more sources to continue reading! Let’s start with
General Tai Chi Benefits
- Increased strength both in the lower and upper extremities and also in the core muscles of the back and abdomen (source; source)
- More flexibility (upper- and lower-body flexibility) (source)
- Improved balance and reduced falls (source)
- Increased energy and stamina (source)
- Improved posture which can result in less wear and tear of the joint muscles and less back pain (source; source)
- Depending on the speed and size of the movements, tai chi can provide some aerobic benefits (source)
- Better cardiovascular health (source) and lower blood pressure (source; source; source)
- Other research points to a drop in cholesterol levels (source)
- Beneficial effects on bone health (source; source)
- Reduction in stress (source) People who practise Tai Chi recognize its powerful effect on relaxation and concentration. It is tool to help you cope with the busy, modern-day life (source)
- Higher self-efficacy (the confidence in and perceived ability to perform a behavior) (source)
- Psychological benefits, such as reducing anxiety, depression and overall better mood, in both healthy people and those with chronic conditions. (source; source; source)
- Beneficial for cognition functions, such as global cognitive ability, attention, learning, memory, language, etc. (source)
- Improved ability to concentrate and multitask during cognitive tests. (source)
- “One becomes more centred, more at peace with oneself and less subject to outside influences” (source)
- Reduced mortality (among men in Shanghai) (source)
- This form of exercise could be the perfect activity for the rest of your life (source)
- It’s fun! (and thus you might be more likely to stick to it) (source)
Wow, if you don’t start training Tai Chi Chuan (or Qi Gong) right away, I don’t know what’s keeping you from it!
To reap all those Tai Chi benefits is really easy. One of the greatest advantage of Tai Chi is that anyone (regardless of age or level of fitness) can do it anywhere anytime. The risk of injury is very low. You don’t need equipment or a lot of space. Just find a teacher and start!
I personally like that it is non-competitive: You can learn at your own pace. However, it can be done in groups, which I enjoy a lot.
And there are lots of movements to keep you interested, and as you become more accomplished you can add those to your routine – it just nether gets boring!
But what if you have health issues and wonder if Tai Chi could help you to improve your quality of life? As you may know, some call Tai Chi “medication in motion”. Just have a look at all the Tai Chi benefits for specific health conditions and you sure know where that phrase comes from!
Tai Chi Benefits for Specific Health Conditions
- Practicing tai chi may help to improve balance and stability in those with Parkinson’s disease (source; source)
- Arthritis: positive benefits within a month or two of practicing (source)
- Adding Tai Chi to your life could help lower your risk for developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease (source; source)
- It may reduce pain from knee osteoarthritis and improve health-related quality of life (source; source)
- For postmenopausal women with osteopenia (low bone mineral density), practicing tai chi may improve quality of life (source)
- Tai chi exercise may improve quality of life, mood, and exercise self-efficacy (belief in one’s own abilities) in people with chronic heart failure (source). In addition, it may enhance sleep stability in those patients. This sleep effect may have a beneficial impact on blood pressure, arrhythmogenesis and quality of life (source; source; source)
- Improved quality of life in people with heart disease, cancer (source), mesothelioma (here), and other chronic illnesses (source)
- Beneficial for women with breast cancer due to improved arm functional mobility, muscle strength, and physical capacity (source; source)
- Improved blood glucose levels and improved control of type 2 diabetes and immune system response (source)
- Reductions in depression symptoms (source)
- Eased fibromyalgia pain and better general quality of life (source). Helps people with fibromyalgia sleep better and cope with musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and depression. (source; source; source)
- Valuable complementary treatment for vestibular disorders (source; source; source)
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): better scores on tests rating respiratory symptoms (source)
- In China, it is believed that Tai chi can aid in the treatment digestive disorders and skin diseases (source)
Again, that is an impressive list, don’t you think?
But most of scientific research is conducted with seniors. This area of research is important because fall-related injuries are the leading cause of death from injury and disability among older adults.
Obviously all the Tai Chi benefits noted above are also valid for Seniors. However, there are certain aspects that are particularly beneficial for Seniors:
Benefits of Tai Chi for Seniors
- A growing body of research is building a compelling case for Tai Chi as an adjunct to standard medical treatment for the prevention and rehabilitation of many conditions commonly associated with age (source; source)
- Improvements in physical functioning, bodily pain, vitality and mental health. (source)
- Improved balance, muscle strength and flexibility, which makes it easier to recover from a stumble. Fear of falling can make you more likely to fall; some studies have found that Tai Chi training helps reduce that fear (source). It could be even more beneficial to combine Tai Chi with music (source)
- Practicing Tai Chi may help to improve balance and stability in older people and reduce the number of falls and associated injuries (source ;source; source; source)
- Better proprioception (ability to sense the position of one’s body in space), which declines with age. Tai chi helps train this sense, which is a function of sensory neurons in the inner ear and stretch receptors in the muscles and ligaments (source)
- Reduced stress, improved balance and general mobility, and increase muscle strength in the legs (source)
- Promotes deep breathing (source)
- Tai chi also may improve reasoning ability in older people (source)
- Improved sleep quality in older adults with moderate sleep complaints, and may help to prevent the onset of insomnia (source)
- May help older adults avoid getting shingles by increasing immunity to varicella-zoster virus and boosting the immune response to varicella vaccine (source)
- Seniors with depression benefit from Tai Chi (source)
- “The brains of older people who had been practicing tai chi for several years were compared with the brains of age-matched sedentary adults. The tai chi participants showed greater connectivity and other measures of health in portions of the brain known to be involved in decision-making and attention than the volunteers who had never done tai chi.” (source)
I really hope that his long long list of Tai Chi benefits helps you to go to that class and get into practicing Tai Chi! Even if you are perfectly healthy, it is just so much fun and the best thing really is: you can do this for the rest of your life!
Just in case: if you practice Taijiquan already and want to practice more have look at my “Practice like a Master: Daily” eCourse! It is full of tricks and tools and will help you to get into the habit of practicing more. So you can reap all the health benefits!
P.S.: I know there are some people who do not believe in studies or who think those studies are not conducted well enough. Well, in that case I just recommend to do a personal case study: try Tai Chi yourself for 12 weeks, practice twice a week or even daily and see what happens!
And finally I would just like to add: though Tai Chi has that many benefits and is quite safe to practice, if you have a health condition or are pregnant, it is a good idea to talk to your health care providers before beginning any exercise program!