Flowing movement, deep breaths, and precise posture… no, we’re not talking about yoga! (Although yoga has bone health benefits too!) We’re talking about tai chi. An exercise often described as “meditation in motion”.¹ But what is tai chi exactly?
Simply put, tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art practiced for self-defense and health.² The term itself translates to “Grand Ultimate”.³ In Chinese culture, this term represents a philosophy concerning the balance of forces in the natural world (also known as the principle of Yin and Yang).
Tai chi is a low impact exercise that brings together mind and body. It involves a series of gentle, precise movements and specific postures. All while maintaining a deep focus on relaxation and breathing.
For centuries, the Chinese have practiced tai chi for its many health benefits. These benefits cover everything from fibromyalgia and arthritis relief to improved balance and coordination (hint: these abilities reduce the risk of falls!). But more on the benefits of tai chi in a moment.
Today, the exercise is popular worldwide. Tai chi is a safe, low-intensity, and low-cost workout which makes it a great option for older adults.⁴
The beauty of tai chi rests in its adaptability. Whether you’re fit as a fiddle or you’re just starting out… whether you’re recovering from an injury or you’re in a wheelchair… you can still practice tai chi!
For starters, we’ve put together a quick guide on the different types of tai chi. Keep reading to find out what style is best for bone health!
- Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). The health benefits of tai chi. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-benefits-of-tai-chi
- Tai Chi and Qi Gong: In Depth. (2020, January 10). Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/taichi/introduction.htm
- Jahnke, R., Larkey, L., Rogers, C., Etnier, J., Lin, F. (2010). A comprehensive review of health benefits of qigong and tai chi. American journal of health promotion, 24(6), e1–e25. doi:10.4278/ajhp.081013-LIT-248
- Yang, G. Y., Wang, L. Q., Ren, J., Zhang, Y., Li, M. L., Zhu, Y. T., … Liu, J. P. (2015). Evidence base of clinical studies on Tai Chi: a bibliometric analysis. PloS one, 10(3), e0120655. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0120655
- Nordqvist, J. (2018, August 30). Tai chi: Benefits, types, and history. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265507.php
- Zou, L., Wang, C., Chen, K., Shu, Y., Chen, X., Luo, L., & Zhao, X. (2017). The effect of tai chi practice on attenuating bone mineral density loss: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. International journal of environmental research and public health, 14(9), 1000. doi:10.3390/ijerph14091000
- Wayne, P. M., et al. (2007). The effects of tai chi on bone mineral density in postmenopausal women: A sytematic review. Arch. Phys. Med. Rehabil. 88(5), 673-80. doi:10.1016/j.apmr.2007.02.012
- Li, F., et al. (2012). Tai chi and postural stability in patients with Parkinson’s disease. The New England Journal of Medicine, 366, 511-519. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1107911
- Gillespie, L. D., Robertson, M. C., Gillespie, W. J., Sherrington, C., Gates, S., Clemson, L. M., Lamb, S. E. (2012). Interventions for preventing falls in older people living in the community. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (9), CD007146. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007146.pub3.
- Ytterberg, S. R., Mahowald, M. L., Krug, H. E. (1994). Exercise for arthritis. Bailliere's Clinical Rheumatology, 8(1), 161-189. doi:10.1016/S0950-3579(05)80230-4
- (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/physical-activity/getting-started/your-exercise-solution
- Song, R., Lee, E., Lam, P., Bae, S. (2003). Effects of tai chi exercise on pain, balance, muscle strength, and perceived difficulties in physical functioning in older women with osteoarthritis: a randomized clinical trial. The Journal of Rheumatology, 30(9), 2039-2044.
- Zheng, S., Kim, C., Lal, S., Meier, P., Sibbritt, D. and Zaslawski, C. (2018), The effects of twelve weeks of tai chi practice on anxiety in stressed but healthy people compared to exercise and wait‐list groups — A randomized controlled trial. J. Clin. Psychol., 74, 83-92. doi:10.1002/jclp.22482
- Nguyen, M. H., Kruse, A. (2012). A randomized controlled trial of tai chi for balance, sleep quality and cognitive performance in elderly Vietnamese. Clinical interventions in aging, 7, 185–190. doi:10.2147/CIA.S32600
- Wang, X., Li, P., Pan, C., Dai, L., Wu, Y., Deng, Y. (2019). The effect of mind-body therapies on insomnia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine, 2019, 9359807. doi:10.1155/2019/9359807
- Wang, C., Schmid, C. H., Fielding, R. A., Harvey, W. F., Reid, K. F., Price, L. L., … McAlindon, T. (2018). Effect of tai chi versus aerobic exercise for fibromyalgia: comparative effectiveness randomized controlled trial. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 360, k851. doi:10.1136/bmj.k851
- Wang, C. et al. (2010). A randomized trial of tai chi for fibromyalgia. New England Journal of Medicine, 363, 743-754. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0912611