People are constantly searching for ways to decrease stress (aka: chill the heck out) and relieve some of the physical ailments that come with age. New tricks, videos, books, and pills are advertised as the new cure-all. Well, most advertised age and stress remedies are – you guessed it – full of it. Luckily, though, there are some solid, time-tested ways to relieve stress and all those oh-so-fun physical maladies that come with age. Yes, a healthy diet and daily exercise are great ways to maintain physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Another fun, soothing option? Tai chi! Tai chi moves are relatively easy to learn (you can learn tai chi exercises online or take classes), and recently, the tried and true practice has received positive press for helping relieve age-related ailments, stress, and disease symptoms.
Tai chi, a 600-year-old, dancelike, Chinese martial art, involves slow, rhythmic, circular movements. Tai chi exercises are focused and flowing. Over the years, scientific research has shown that tai chi moves help older people maintain strength, balance, and regulate stress and blood pressure, and myriad other health issues.
A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that regular tai chi exercise enlarges the brain and enhances elderly individuals’ cognitive abilities. The regular exercise helped people retain memory function. The study also showed that practicing tai chi may delay the onset of dementia.
A recent study that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that Parkinson’s patients also could benefit from practicing tai chi. The study, which was headed by Fuzhong Li, revealed the following:
“In the study, Li divided Parkinson's patients into three groups. One group did resistance training with weights. Another, stretching classes. And the third took up tai chi. Each group participated in a 60-minute class twice a week for six months.
When they finished, Li found that the tai chi patients were stronger and had much better balance than patients in the other two groups. In fact, Li says their balance was "four times better than those patients assigned to the stretching group and about two times better than those in the resistance-training group."