Tai Chi For Seniors

As we get older, our ability to perform and take part in high-intensity exercises decreases. But getting older should never be an excuse to stop exercising!

Exercising has many health benefits; to name a few, it helps improve mood, sleep, blood glucose, stamina, and energy. But there is a misconception that these benefits can only be reaped if we do super-hard, high-intensity exercise. In reality, any type of physical activity, if done consistently, can help you achieve all the benefits that exercise offers!

For seniors and older adults, fast-paced workouts are not recommended – especially for those with underlying health problems or chronic pain. Overdoing physical activity can negatively affect your health; for seniors, slower, low-impact workouts are more recommended.

A great low-impact workout is Tai Chi. Tai Chi exercises is described as ‘meditation in motion’ and is an ancient Chinese movement practice. The movement involves breathing exercises and meditation. Practicing Tai Chi requires the individual to create a ‘flow’ with the repetitive moves while standing.

Research has shown that if practiced regularly, Tai Chi could improve flexibility, balance, and stability in older adults, especially those who have Parkinson’s disease. Tai Chi exercises is also claimed to reduce pain, especially in those individuals who have back pain, knee pain, and fibromyalgia. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “falls are the second most common cause of accidental injury deaths in the world. Also, falls are the leading cause of injury in adults over the age of 60”.

A regular practice of Tai Chi movements also helps to reduce the number of falls older adults experience, alongside reducing the fear of falling altogether. Reduction in this fear may also improve the quality of life in some older adults.

If you are looking to incorporate physical activity into your life but are unsure of where to start, Tai Chi may be a great option for you. Here is a beginner Tai Chi movement flow that you could try out at home:

The Leg Warm Up

This Tai Chi exercise is a movement that requires you to stand on both legs. Your feet should be a little more wider than hip distance apart, and your knees should be slightly bent. You can either keep your hands at your sides or on your waist.

Once you have created the stance, the movement involves you shifting your weight from one leg to the other. If you require extra support, you could place your hands on a chair back and continue with the movement.

You should repeat this movement at least five times on both sides.

The Torso Twist

Once you complete the leg warm-up, you should move on to torso twists. This movement helps to strengthen your core.

This movement requires you to have the same leg stance as the leg warm-up, but you should have your arms on your waist. Inhale a deep breath; as you exhale, twist your torso to one side and then use the same process to switch to the other side. Make sure to stretch your spine as you twist.

You should repeat this movement at least five times on both sides.

The ‘Energy to the Sky’

This Tai Chi exercise is a movement that requires you to have the same leg stance as the leg warm-up, but this time your hands should be lifted to your face, with your palms facing downwards.

Inhale as you move your arms upwards above your head, and exhale as you push your arms downwards.

You should repeat this movement five times; it is great for stretching the abdominal region and helps to improve digestion and breathing.

The ‘Drawing The Bow’

This movement requires you to have the same initial leg stance of the leg warm-up, except you should step your right foot a little farther. Extend your arms towards the right side and pull the left elbow back while lifting the thumb and forefinger in the right hand.

As you extend your arms into this position, you should squat as deep as you can while lifting your face toward the sky.

You should repeat this on the left side and vice versa; repeat this movement at least three times on both sides. This Tai Chi movement helps to stimulate circulation and build strength in the chest, arms, legs, and shoulders.

The ‘Penetrating Heaven And Earth’

After you are done with the ‘drawing a bow,’ return the legs to the original stance in the warm-up. Bring your hands towards your chest.

When you inhale, send the right arm over the head and the left arm down to the pelvis. The right arm will have its palm facing the ceiling, while the left arm will have its palm facing the floor); you should also do this vice versa.

You should repeat this Tai Chi exercise movement at least 8 times while being mindful of your breathing during. This movement is great for stretching your shoulders out and helps blood reach your organs as the front side of your body is stretched.

The ‘Touch The Sky’

Similar to the ‘Penetrating Heaven and Earth,’ the ‘Touch the Sky’ involves moving your arms over your head while your palms face the ceiling. Inhale as you bring your arms up, and exhale as you bring them down.

You should repeat this movement at least five times; it is great for stretching out your abdominal area and helps strengthen core stability.

The movements mentioned above are just a few in the vast exercise that is Tai Chi; they are great for beginners and those looking to get the initial experience of the movement before they completely commit.

Tai Chi Is Accessible For Everyone – And Seniors

The great thing about Tai Chi is that it is accessible; almost anyone can do it. The accessibility can really help seniors, especially if they do not have a Tai Chi class or any other space where they can exercise around them.

Also, practicing Tai Chi does not require any kind of fancy equipment. All you would need is a yoga mat and good shoes to keep you balanced. Since equipment is not needed for Tai Chi, you can technically perform Tai Chi anywhere! Be it at your home or even a local park. Having an outdoor setting can also have many health benefits, including fresh air and possible social interactions. Have a friend tag along so that you can both enjoy Tai Chi and its health benefits!


Leave a Comment

In The Bulletin

Related Posts