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Need an Alternative to Yoga? Try Tai Chi

By Paul Rothbart

Forms of exercise that combine mindfulness with working the body are especially beneficial to overall health. Yoga is one of the most effective and popular, but it's not for everyone. Being posed based, some people may find the positions difficult or uncomfortable. A good alternative with similar benefits is tai chi. Originating in China, tai chi has its roots in the martial arts and involves slow movements and deep breathing. It's a good fit for older adults and those whose physical conditions won't permit more vigorous training. There are a number of different types of tai chi, which means you can find one that suits your needs. Here are some of the benefits of practicing tai chi.

Stress Reduction

With its slow movements and focus on breathing, tai chi has been shown to reduce stress. A 2018 study of 50 participants compared the effects of tai chi on stress and anxiety with that of traditional exercise. Tai chi was found to have the same benefits as exercise, but because of its inclusion of meditation and deep breathing, it may be superior in reducing stress. Tai chi is low impact and thus places less stress on the body, which is also an aid to lowering anxiety.

Improve Sleep

Engaging in tai chi on a regular basis can improve sleep. A 10-week study showed that people who participated in two tai chi classes a week slept better than the control group, who did not do tai chi. Research has also found that older adults who practice tai chi tend to sleep better.

Improve Mood

Tai chi can help promote better moods and fight depression. The mindful breathing and slow movements can have a positive effect on the nervous system and the hormones that regulate mood. This can reduce anxiety and depression and result in more positive moods. 

Reduce Arthritis Pain

Several studies have been conducted using participants with rheumatoid or osteoarthritis. After a 12-week period of practicing tai chi regularly, the participants experienced a reduction in pain, greater mobility, and a higher quality of life. In the case of knee osteoarthritis, tai chi has proven to be every bit as effective as physical therapy.

Tai chi is considered one of the safer forms of exercise. Its movements are slow and low stress. It's especially good for older adults or those who cannot handle more intense exercise. It has significant benefits for physical, mental, and emotional health. You kind of look cool doing it too.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in San Antonio, Tex.

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