Natural Health

This Slow, Gentle Exercise Adds Years To Your Life

This Slow, Gentle Exercise Adds Years To Your Life about undefined
If you’re one of those folks who’s not crazy about huffing and puffing through frequent exercise sessions, I’ve got good news…

The series of slow, controlled movements called tai chi might be just the right activity for you. What’s more, new research shows this gentle, ancient form of exercise can produce tremendous anti-aging benefits.

Tai chi is short for tai chi chuan, sometimes called shadowboxing. It’s an ancient Chinese martial art practiced originally for self-defense training, meditation, and eventually, health benefits.

The practice of tai chi is a mixture of slow dance movements intertwined with gentle martial arts motions. Its drawn-out, controlled movements make it relatively easy to follow a live instructor or a video routine onscreen.

Studies show that tai chi can bolster strength and boost your sense of balance along with furthering flexibility and aerobic conditioning. It also produces many of the anti-aging benefits of other types of exercise.

Slow Motion Health Improvements 

Despite the fact that these movements might not seem like they require a large expenditure of energy, a study at UCLA demonstrates that they can do things like help you lose weight just about as effectively as going for a brisk walk or jog.

In the UCLA investigations, researchers examined how tai chi could reduce body fat around the waistline and improve heart health. The study showed that tai chi helps people shrink their waistlines, improve heart health, and lower blood pressure.1 Tai chi has also been shown to significantly help reduce chronic pain. For instance, a study at Tufts University on people suffering fibromyalgia – a condition that causes prolonged aches and pains – demonstrates that tai chi lowers pain and improves people’s overall health and mental outlook.2 In this yearlong study, the scientists compared the effects of aerobic exercise on one group of people who had fibromyalgia to the effects of tai chi on another group of fibromyalgia sufferers. They found that tai chi helped people as much as other exercise programs like swimming, running, or biking does. But they add that tai chi can help people who, for whatever reason, can’t or don’t want to engage in more vigorous workouts.

Reduced Injury-Causing Falls by 50 Percent 

Research also shows that tai chi can help older people retain a better sense of balance and reduce their risk of life-threatening falls.

For example, a review analysis in Spain that looked at studies of how tai chi helps seniors keep from falling found that the gentle exercise program reduced injurious falls in the short term by 50 percent and by 28 percent in the long term. The studies they analyzed lasted from 12 to 26 weeks and the people in the various investigations spent from one to three hours a week practicing tai chi.3 Tai chi can also help the brain age more slowly since it helps to maintain healthier blood flow to brain tissue.

A study in Asia found that people aged 60 to 69 who practiced tai chi had more adequate blood circulation to the brain’s neurons than do other people of the same age who didn’t do tai chi.

As these researchers explain, this type of circulation, which they call cerebrovascular function, can shrink as we age. Its reduction is linked to cognitive issues and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other brain problems.4 These types of impressive anti-aging benefits make tai chi an important tool for anyone interested in fighting back against the problems of aging. In addition, a variety of studies have found that doing tai chi can increase the number of stem cells called cd34+ that circulate in the blood.

Researchers consider the number of cd34+ cells in the blood to be a marker of aging. As we age, their numbers drop. If you can keep them up, say researchers, the increase can slow biological aging.5,6

How to Start a Tai Chi Routine 

Tai chi may be one of the easiest exercise programs to do at home because there is no equipment required. What’s more, there are plenty of tai chi videos online that you can watch and follow for free. Or you can probably locate a tai chi class near you at your local Y or gym. Either way, you’ll probably find tai chi to be relaxing and rewarding.

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