Over 2.5 million people practice Tai Chi in the US. The strongest evidence in studies that have been done confirms regular practice of Tai Chi improves balance and increases musculoskeletal strength. Falls are a critical issue in the aging population. There is a high risk of fracture (particularly in women) from falls. Research has shown 1 in 5 older women with fractures, die within a year. And 1 in 4 don’t get better at all. In addition to being costly when it comes to medical expenses, it also greatly reduces the quality of life for patients. There is strong clinical evidence that Tai Chi reduces the risk of fall related fractures. More generally, regular Tai Chi practice is associated with improved quality of life and emotional well being, providing good evidence that Tai Chi may be helpful for everyone.
At 58 years old, Nan Braucher began practicing Tai Chi under the instruction of Calvin Chin at the Calvin Chin Martial Arts Academy in Newton, MA. Nan’s curiosity about Tai Chi had piqued after observing a young man in a park doing it. Her interest lead to regular practice of it and now 13 years later she has begun to teach some neighbors on an informal basis. "Regular Tai Chi practice has enabled me to assume postures that were impossible for me earlier. What I love about Tai Chi is that the exercise is not of individual body parts, but of the whole body. I know that certain muscles of mine have been strengthened, but not as a result of exclusive attention to individual muscles. Rather, they are strengthened through whole body engagement.”
If you're new to a Tai Chi class, here's what you can expect. You'll most likely see a broad age range. Some classmates were newbies like me, and others had practiced it for several years. Everyone had a different reason for starting Tai Chi – from general interest to recovery from an injury; yet we all agree the strength Tai Chi can build through its continuous movements is beneficial both mentally and physically.
What’s nice about Tai Chi is anyone can do it. It has a nice balance of physical motion and mental training. The movements are low-impact and the risk of injury is very low. It provides strengthening of both lower and upper extremities, yet builds self awareness and teaches breathing techniques. You can practice it at home, at work, or on vacation. It does not require a new wardrobe or special equipment and for those with more serious conditions, it is relatively safe. Tai Chi improves quality of life in moods, self efficacy, and can build confidence in patients to exercise on their own. Have you done Tai Chi?