Tai Chi combines exercise and meditation

The goal of any fitness activity is to improve human performance. Many choose competitive sports while others prefer pursuing this goal individually. Any effort to improve the human body’s ability to compete must include a program of diet, exercise and stress reduction.

Tai chi is among the few activities that combines aerobic exercise, resistance training and meditation. Originally from China, it was developed as a form of self-defense 2,000 years ago and described as “meditation in motion.”

The basis for tai chi is 13 movements that flow without interruption. All activity involves a breathing component. An effective workout can be designed in segments performed throughout the day totaling as little as 20 minutes.

David Chandler is a tai chi master from Quaker Hill, who has practiced for 35 years. His week is filled teaching classes around the state including at Backus Center for Healthcare Integration (CHI) class each Tuesday at the Backus Hospital Outpatient Care Center from 6:30 - 8 pm.

“If you think you don’t have time in your life to do tai chi, then you don’t have time not to do it,” Chandler said.

His belief is based on the countless reports of students from factory workers to artists who report dramatically increased productivity since practicing tai chi.

The medical benefits of tai chi include treating many musculoskeletal conditions, among them arthritis and back pain. The movements are low-impact and weight-bearing so that both stamina and flexibility are improved.

Unintentional falls account for more than 16,000 deaths in the United States each year. Many physicians recommend tai chi for elderly patients as a mechanism to improve balance and avoid a catastrophe.

Accomplished athletes effectively implement a tai chi component to their workout as a way of stretching and refining skillful movements.

Tai chi is an activity with broad appeal for people of all ages and abilities. It also serves as a means of overall self-improvement that can benefit anyone.

Anthony G. Alessi, MD, is Chief of Neurology at The William W. Backus Hospital and in private practice at NeuroDiagnostics, LLC, in Norwich. E-mail him at aalessi@wwbh.org, or listen to his podcasts, comment on his blog or buy his book at backushospital.org.


Anonymous said...

I've been doing Tai Chi for a while now and glad that it can help with the "fall" rate of the elderly. Appreciate any pointers on how I can be involved.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comment. A group meets at the Backus Outpatient Care Center on Tuesdays at 6:30. It is a great group and I enjoyed a session with them